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Jules  Engel 

Interviewed  by  Lawrence  Weschler  and  Milton  Zolotow 

Completed  under  the  auspices 

of  the 

Oral    History   Program 

University    of    California 

Los    Angeles 

Copyright   ®   1985 
The  Regents  of  the  University  of  California 


The  copyright  law  of  the  United  States  (Title  17, 
United  States  Code)  governs  the  making  of  photocopies 
or  other  reproductions  of  copyrighted  material.  Under 
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uses,  a  photocopy  or  reproduction  for  purposes  in 
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right  to  refuse  to  accept  a  copying  order  if,  in  its 
judgement,  fulfillment  of  the  order  would  involve 
violation  of  copyright  law. 


None . 


This  manuscript  is  hereby  made  available  for  research 
purposes  only.   All  literary  rights  in  the  manuscript, 
including  the  right  to  publication,  are  reserved  to  the 
University  Library  of  the  University  of  California, 
Los  Angeles.   No  part  of  the  manuscript  may  be  quoted 
for  publication  without  the  written  permission  of  the 
University  Librarian  of  the  University  of  California, 
Los  Angeles. 


This  interview  is  one  of  a  series,  entitled  "Los 
Angeles  Art  Community:  Group  Portrait,"  funded  by  the 
National  Endowment  for  the  Humanities  and  conducted 
from  July  1,  1975  to  March  31,  1977  by  the  UCLA  Oral 
History  Program.  The  project  was  directed  jointly  by 
Page  Ackerman,  University  Librarian,  and  Gerald 
Nordland,  Director  UCLA  Art  Galleries,  and  administered 
by  Bernard  Galm,  Director,  Oral  History  Program.  After 
selection  of  interview  candidates  and  interviewers,  the 
Program  assumed  responsibility  for  the  conduct  of  all 
interviews  and  their  processing. 


Introduction viii 

Interview  History xiii 

TAPE  NUMBER:   I,  Side  One  (December  29,  1975) 1 

Childhood  in  Budapest,  Hungary--Arr ives  in 
Evanston,  Illinois,  at  age  of  13--An  affinity  for 
nonf igurative  des ign--Moves  to  Los  Angeles-- 
Apprentice  animator  at  Charles  Mintz  Studio-- 
Interest  in  movement  and  rhythm  grows  out  of 
early  exposure  to  ballet--Kandinsky  exhibit--Work 
at  Walt  Disney  Studios-- Fantasia — Professional 
conflicts — A  lack  of  sympathy  for  experimentation 
at  Disney. 

TAPE  NUMBER:'  I,  Side  Two  (December  29,  1975) 25 

Recollections  of  Walt  Disney--Disney  as  an 
instinctive  entertainer--Limits  of  Disney's 
approach  to  animation--Work  at  the  Air  Force 
animation  unit--Herb  Klynn,  an  exceptional  talent 
in  graphic  art3--United  Productions  of  America 
(UPA) — More  on  the  limits  of  Disney's  approach  to 
animation--Personalities  are  the  merchandise  of 
Hollywood . 

TAPE  NUMBER:   II,  Video  Session  (January  23,  1976) 45 

Los  Angeles'  shortcomings  as  an  art  center — 
Comparisons  with  New  York--More  on  work  on 
Fantasia- -Discusses  his  drawings  for  Fantasia-- 
Rico  Lebrun's  work  at  Disney--Animators  in  the 
1950s--Exhibits  of  animators'  paintings — The 
hard-edge  geometrical  style  of  Engel's 
paintings — A  desire  to  translate  qualities  of 
simplicity  and  directness  from  painting  into 
film — Film  as  a  developing  art  form — More  on  work 
at  UPA--An  emphasis  on  flat,  two-dimensional 
design  at  UPA — The  UPA  look  influenced  by 
contemporary  painters — Raoul  Dufy  and  the 
divorced  line — The  use  of  color  as  aspect  of 
dramatic  intent--Economy  of  gesture  in  UPA 
films — Robert  Cannon,  the  greatest  animator  in 
the  business. 



TAPE  NUMBER:   III,  Side  One  (May  19,  1976) 79 

On  present  position  as  chairman  of  film  graphics 
department  at  California  Institute  of  the  Arts 
(Cal  Arts)  —  Interrelationship  of  film  and  other 
art  forms  at  Cal  Arts — Early  history  of  Cal  Arts — 
Future  trends  in  the  arts--The  live-action  camera 
department  at  Cal  Arts--Cal  Arts  as  a  reservoir 
of  young  talent--A  positive  working  environment 
at  Cal  Arts. 

TAPE  NUMBER:   IV,  Side  One  (December  16,  1977) 105 

Viewing  Engel's  experimental  animation  films-- 
Train  Landscape,  a  painterly  approach  to 
f ilmmaking--Engel ' s  methods  of  conception  and 
execution- -Accident — Shapes  and  Gestures,  the 
influence  of  dance-- Land scape ,  a  color-field 
painting  in  time--Wet  Paint--Fragments . 

TAPE  NUMBER:   IV,  Side  Two  (December  16,  1977) 121 

More  on  Fragments — Rumble--Engel ' s  working 
methods--v7orki  ng  through  instincts  rather  than 
formulas- -Swan — The  hazards  of  the  computer  film-- 
Three  Arctic  Flowers--Engel ' s  work  with  computer 
graph ics--Coaraze_,  a  live-action  film--Use  of 
still  photography  in  Coaraze--Coara2e  wins  Prix 
Vigo  and  numerous  other  awards--No  commercial 
distributor  opts  to  handle  Coaraze . 

TAPE  NUMBER:   V,  Side  One  (December  22,  1977) 138 

Oskar  Fischinger--Fischinger ' s  isolation  within 
the  Disney  Studios--Los  Angeles  avant-garde 
painters  and  animators  in  1940s--Fischinger ' s 
last  years  at  Disney--More  on  Engel's  teaching  at 
Cal  Arts — Disney  trustees  and  the  founding  of  Cal 
Arts--The  evolution  and  success  of  the  Cal  Arts 
animation  program--Engel ' s  teaching  methods. 

TAPE  NUMBER:   V,  Side  Two  (December  22,  1977) 163 

More  on  teaching  at  Cal  Arts--Student  interaction 
at  Cal  Arts--Teaching  approaches--Kathy  Rose, 
Dennis  Pies,  and  Adam  Beckett--On  establishing 
rapport  with  students--Women  in  animation. 


TAPE  NUMBER:   VI,  Side  One  (December  30,  1977) 191 

Preparation  for  work  on  live-action  films — The 
Ivory  Knife,  capturing  the  environment  of  the 
painter  Paul  Jenkins--Colla'oorat ion  with  Irving 
Bazilon  on  film  score--Interaction  with  Jenkins — 
The  Torch  and  the  Torso--Working  with  Miguel 
Berrocal--Structural  and  thematic  relations 
between  drama  and  painting--Mew  York  100,  the 
work  of  John  Hultberg — Light  Motion — Max  Bill-- 
Technical  considerations  in  live-action  film-- 
June  Wayne  and  the  Tamarind  workshop--Engel ' s 
introduction  to  li thography--Working  environment 
at  Tamarind. 

TAPE  NUMBER:   VI,  Side  Two  (December  30,  1977) 219 

More  on  June  Wayne  and  Tamarind  V7orkshop — The 
Look  of  a  Lithographer--Ken  Tyler  and  Gemini 
Editions,  Ltd. --Robert  Rauschenberg ,  Jasper 
Johns,  Claes  Oldenburg,  and  Frank  Stella  work  at 
Gemini--Cirrus  Editions--Engel ' s  lithographic 
work--Engel  on  the  status  of  film  as  an  art 
form--Is  film  a  "medium  of  consequence"? 

TAPE  NUMBER:   VII,  Side  One  (February  16,  1978) 246 

Childhood  interest  in  abstraction — Family 
background — First  encounters  with  the  work  of 
Kandinsky — Engel's  working  methods--Connect ions 
between  the  mediums  in  which  Engel  works--Sngel ' s 
relations  with  dealers:   Paul  Kantor,  Esther 
Robles,  Felix  Landau,  and  Irving  Blum — More  on 
limits  of  Los  Angeles  as  an  art  center — 
Comparisons  with  New  York. 

TAPE  NUMBER:   VII,  Side  Two,  (April  1,  1978) .....273 

More  on  interest  in  abstraction — The  "Four 
Abstract  Classicists"  show  at  Los  Angeles  County 
Museum--A  developmental  survey  of  the  phases  of 
Engel's  artistic  career--Establishing  depth  with 
color — The  straight  line — Engel's  love  of  urban 
life--Living  and  working  in  Los  Angeles — 
Animation,  painting,  lithography,  and  film — 
Future  directions  for  Engel — Future  trends  for 
young  artists  and  filmmakers — The  bankruptcy  of 
magic  realism. 

Index ........300 

VI  1 





Jules  Engel  (born  in  Budapest,  Hungary,  1913)  came  to 
the  United  States  when  he  was  thirteen  years  old.   He  began 
painting  in  a  hard-edged  geometrical  style  while  a  high 
school  student  in  Evanston,  Illinois.   "I  already  had  a 
very  definite  idea,"  Engel  states  in  the  following 
interview,  "that,  for  me,  going  out  and  drawing  landscapes 
or  still  lifes  was  not  quite  the  idea  what  drawing  or 
painting  should  be.   Now,  if  you  ask  me  where  this  idea 
comes  from,  I  have  no  idea.   But  my  feeling  was  then  that 
if  I  would  take  an  empty  piece  of  paper  and  draw  a  line  or 
two  on  it,  even  if  I  put  a  circle  in  a  square  on  the  paper, 
that  that  could  be  a  drawing,  and  that  could  be  enough. 
And  that  should  be  enough."   (p. 7) 

Immediately  after  graduating  from  high  school  in  1937, 
Engel  came  to  Los  Angeles.   He  worked  briefly  for  Charles 
Mintz  Studios,  then  Engel  apprenticed  at  Walt  Disney 
Studios.   The  studio  assigned  him  to  work  on  Fantasia ,  and 
he  choreographed  the  Chinese  and  Russian  dance  sequences 
for  the  Nutcracker  Suite  section  of  that  film.   In  these 
two  sequences,  Engel  innovated  the  use  of  black-background 
animation.   He  v/as  then  selected  to  do  color  continuity  and 
color  keying  on  Bambi.   Engel,  however,  was  not  happy  with 

VI  1  1 

what  he  considered  the  restrictive  creative  environment  at 
Disney  and  left  to  join  the  armed  services  after  the  United 
States  entered  World  War  II.   Engel  spent  the  war  years 
assigned  to  Hal  Roach  Studios  in  Culver  City,  making 
training  and  educational  films  for  the  Air  Force  Motion 
Picture  Unit. 

After  the  war  Engel  went  to  work  for  the  newly  formed 
United  Productions  of  America  (UPA).   He  began  as  a 
designer  but  by  1950  he  had  become  art  director  for  all  UPA 
productions.   He  teamed  up  with  the  late  Robert  Cannon  to 
create  Gerald  McBoing-Boing ,  Madeline ,  Christopher  Crumpet, 
and  Jaywalker ,  plus  a  feature  film  "starring"  UPA's  Mister 
Magoo  character.   Engel  and  the  other  talents  working  at 
UPA  changed  the  look  of  commercial  animated  filmmaking  by 
adapting  the  artistic  concepts  of  contemporary  artists  as 
varied  as  Dufy,  Duchamps,  Matisse,  Kandinsky,  and  Klee. 

In  1959,  Engel  left  UPA  to  open  with  Herb  Klynn  a 
commercial  animation  studio.  Format  Films.   Engel  produced 
and  art  directed  the  Academy  Award-nominated  film,  Icarus 
Montgofier  Wright  (1960),  from  a  script  by  Ray  Bradbury. 
Engel  then  went  to  Paris  in  1962  and  directed  The  World  of 
Sine ,  featuring  the  work  of  French  cartoonist  Sine;  this 
film  received  France's  "La  Belle  Qualite"  award. 

The  next  film  which  Engel  directed  in  Europe  was 
Coroaze,  made  in  the  French  town  of  Coroaze  in  1965. 




p.  Adams  Sitney,  writing  on  this  film  for  Filmex,  argues 
that  this  film  is  the  "most  impressive  of  [Engel's] 
nonanimated  films  .  .  .  Coroaze  utilizes  high  contrast 
black  and  white  photography  to  outline  the  sculptural 
volume  in  Engel's  view  of  the  medieval  townscape.   Stills 
are  freely  incorporated  in  this  film,  at  times  in  direct 
antithesis  to  the  movement  on  the  screen,  but  more  often  to 
indicate  the  ambiguity  between  the  photograph  and  the 
filmed  image  of  an  empty  street.   In  this  carefully 
controlled  optical  universe  the  camera  must  seek  out  human 
activity  to  determine  the  status  of  its  images.   Engel's 
painterly  eye  dwells  upon  the  tiled  rooftops  and  the  strong 
horizontals  of  the  stone  steps.   By  rapidly  shifting  the 
camera  angles  and  recomposing  these  objects,  he  is  able  to 
draw  'graphic  choreography'  from  them."   ("American 
Independent  Animation:  Perspectives/  Jules  Engel,"  The  1978 
Los  Angeles  International  Film  Exposition)   Coroaze  won  the 
highest  award  given  by  French  film  critics,  the  Prix  Jean  Vigo. 

While  living  in  France,  Engel  coproduced  and 
codirected  with  Raymond  Jerome  the  stage  production  of 
Antoine  de  Saint  ExupSry's  The  Little  Prince,  which  ran  for 
several  seasons  in  Paris,  Rome,  and  Brussels.   He  also 
designed  the  sets  for  Le  Jouex,  an  avant-garde  play 
produced  in  Paris. 

Engel  has  made  several  films  on  artists  and  their 

work.   In  1966,  he  directed  a  study  of  Spanish  sculptor 
i4iguel  Berrocal,  The  Torch  and  Torso.   He  directed  a  film 
for  Tamarind  Lithography  Workshop,  The  Look  of  the 
Lithographer  (1968).   Other  films  on  art  and  artists  are 
American  Sculpture  of  the  Sixties  (1968),  New  York  100 
(1967),  and  Max  Bill  (1976). 

Throughout  a  lengthy  and  successful  career  in  both 
commercial  and  independent  filmmaking,  Engel  has  produced 
paintings,  sculptures,  drawings,  and  lithographs.   He  has 
had  several  one-man  shows  in  Los  Angeles,  New  York,  and 
Europe.   His  art  work  is  in  the  permanent  collections  of 
the  Chicago  Art  Institute,  the  Hirshhorn  Collection,  the 
Rockefeller  Collection,  and  the  Museum  of  Modern  Art  in  New 
York  City. 

Engel  he  did  not  intensively  explore  his  ideas  for 
experimental  films  until  the  1960s,  and  his  most 
"painterly"  films  were  made  in  the  1970s.   In  Landscape 
(1971),  Accident  (1973),  Train  Landscape  (1973),  Shapes  and 
Gestures  (1976),  Rumble  (1977),  Fragments  of  Movement 
(1977),  and  Wet  Paint  (1977),  Engel  has  created  pure 
abstractions  which  explore  the  movement  potentials  of  lines 
and  masses,  optical  conflicts,  color  and  depth  illusions, 
color-field  concepts,  and  the  single  line.   Engel  calls 
these  films  paintings  in  motion  or  "graphic 
choreography."   In  1977,  in  the  magazine  New,  Engel  wrote 


that  his  emphasis  in  these  films  is  "on  the  development  of 
a  visual  dynamic  language,  independent  of  literature  and 
theatrical  traditions,  demonstrating  that  pure  graphic 
choreography  is  capable  of  its  own  wordless  truth." 

Since  1969,  Engel  has  been  chairman  of  the  Department 
of  Animation/Experimental  Film  at  the  California  Institute 
of  the  Arts.   Engel  in  the  following  interview  emphasizes 
the  cross-fertilization  that  exists  between  painting  and 
filmmaking  in  both  his  teaching  and  his  creative  work,  but 
he  says,  "I  have  taken  more  from  the  painting  world  into 
the  film  that  I've  been  doing,  rather  than  the  other  way.  . 
When  we  are  talking  animation,  we  have  to  realize  that  we're 
talking  about  painting  in  motion."   (pp.  291-292) 

XI  1 



Tapes  I-III,  Milton  Zolotow,  graphic  designer;  Tapes 
IV-VII,  Lawrence  Weschler,  assistant  editor,  UCLA  Oral 
History  Program,  B.A.,  Philosophy  and  Cultural  History, 
University  of  California,  Santa  Cruz. 


Places ;   Engel's  home  in  Beverly  Hills;  Engel's 
studio/office  at  the  California  Institute  of  the  Arts  in 
Valencia,  California;  and  the  Charles  Aidikoff  Screening 
Room  in  Beverly  Hills. 

Dates :   December  29,  1975;  January  23,  May  19,  1976; 
December  16,  22,  30,  1977;  February  16  and  April  1,  1978. 

Length  of  sessions  and  total  number  of  recording  hours: 
Interview  sessions  were  conducted  at  various  times  of 
day.   They  averaged  between  forty-five  and  ninety 
minutes.   A  total  of  approximately  nine  hours  of 
conversation  was  recorded. 

Persons  present  during  the  interview:   Tapes  I-III,  Engel 
and  Zolotow;  Tapes  IV-VII,  Engel  and  Weschler. 


There  was  a  one  and  a  half  year  gap  between  the  work  of 
the  original  interviewer,  Milton  Zolotow,  and  that  of  the 
interviewer  for  the  final  four  tapes,  Lawrence  Weschler. 

Zolotow's  approach  was  chronological  and  followed  the 
course  of  Engel's  life  and  work  as  an  artist.   Weschler 
began  his  sessions  by  viewing  some  of  Engel's  experimental 
films  and  having  Engel  discuss  them.   Further  sessions 
focused  on  themes  which  explored  in  depth  the  range  of 
Engel's  creative  activities.   In  several  instances  Engel 
returned  to  topics  previously  discussed  with  Zolotow,  in 
particular  Engel's  interest  in  abstract  art,  his  years  at 
Disney  Studios  and  UPA,  and  his  present  teaching  position 
at  Cal  Arts. 


Lawrence  Weschler  edited  the  entire  interview.   He  checked 
the  verbatim  transcript  of  the  interview  against  the 


original  tape  recordings  and  edited  for  spelling, 
punctuation,  paragraphing,  and  verified  spelling  of  proper 
nouns.   Words  and  phrases  inserted  for  clarity  by  the 
editor  have  been  bracketed. 

Engel  reviewed  and  approved  the  edited  transcript.   He 
made  no  changes  or  deletions  in  the  manuscript. 

Richard  Candida  Smith,  principal  editor,  wrote  the 
introduction.   George  Hodak,  editorial  assistant,  prepared 
the  index  and  the  table  of  contents. 


The  original  tape  recordings  of  the  interview  are  in  the 
university  archives  and  are  available  under  the 
regulations  governing  the  use  of  permanent  noncurrent 
records  of  the  university.   Records  relating  to  the 
interview  are  located  in  the  office  of  the  UCLA  Oral 
History  Program.  .  .. 


DECEMBER  29,  1975 

ZOLOTOW:   Now,  one  of  the  first  things  they  [UCLA  Oral 
History  Program]  were  interested  in  establishing  is  v/here 
you  came  from,  how  you  got  here.   Where 'd  you  come  from? 

ENGEL:   Where 'd  I  come  from?   I  was  born  in  Budapest, 
Hungary,  and  I  came  to  this  country  as  a  citizen,  because 
my  mother  was  already  here  for  some  time.   So  as  I  said, 
when  I  came  over,  I  came  over  as  an  American  citizen, 
because  she  was  already  a  citizen. 
ZOLOTOW:   How  old  were  you? 

ENGEL:   I  think  about  thirteen.   I  landed  in  Evanston, 
Illinois,  which  was  a  lucky  thing  for  me,  because  it's  a 
lovely  place,  and  the  people  were  very  kind  to  me.   They 
really  looked  after  me  in  anything  and  everything.   They 
made  sure  that  my  presence  was  comfortable.   Naturally,  I 
spoke  not  a  word  of  English,  so  I  attended  some  night 
school.   But  I  was  also  able  to  enter  a  high  school  in 
Evanston.   I  guess  I  already  was  showing  some  signs  of 
drawing  talent,  but  they  wanted  me  also  because  I  showed 
promise  in  athletics.   I  became  one  of  their  star  athletes. 
ZOLOTOW:   What  sports  were  you  interested  in? 
ENGEL:   Track.   I'd  run  anything  from  the  400  up. 
ZOLOTOW:   Still  run? 

ENGEL:   No,  no,  no.   I  don't  like  to  run  for  fun.   No, 
let  me  take  that  back.   For  me,  it's  competition;  that 
was  good.   But  the  running  aspect  of  it,  the  whole  athletic 
aspect  of  it  for  me,  was  a  natural  thing;  it  was  just  part 
of  my  body,  my  body  rhythm.   And  I  was  pretty  damn  good 
at  it,  I  guess,  because  I  was  the  track  captain,  and  I 
broke,  oh,  about  a  dozen  high  school  records.   But  to  me, 
the  good  thing  was  that  I  enjoyed  it.   Your  body  can 
function  like  an  animal.   In  other  words,  you  have  your 
head  and  your  body,  and  running,  jumping,  and  all,  that  was 
where  the  body  was  in  motion.   To  me  that  was  a  very  good 
thing.   So  I  guess  because  of  that  and  the  drawing,  the 
people  at  Evans ton  were  really  very,  very  beautiful,  and, 
really,  I  think  I  was  lucky  to  land  there  because  of  the 
care  that  they  showed  toward  me. 
ZOLOTOW:   Then  where ' d  you  go? 

ENGEL:   Then  from  there  I  took  off  to  Hollywood. 
ZOLOTOW:   Direct? 

ENGEL:   Yes.   I  just  got  on  a  bus  and  I  came  out  here.   I 
only  knew  one  person  out  here,  because  I  met  somebody  back 
in  Chicago  who  gave  me  the  address.   Of  course,  the  whole 
thing  is  a  little  vague  now.   But  what  happened  was  that 
I  landed  out  here  and  I  went  to  see  this  one  person,  and 
there  wasn't  much  there;  but  then  he  recommended  me  to  go 
see  somebody  at  the  Chamber  of  Commerce  of  Hollywood.   I 

saw  this  other  man,  and  he  said  to  me,  "You  know,  you're 
a  very  nice  chap.   I'll  tell  you  what  I'll  do  for  you. 
I'll  give  you  the  money  that  it  would  take  for  you  to  get 
back  to  Evanston,  Illinois.   You  should  go  back.   You  are 
a  nice  fellow,  and  I  really  want  to  help  you.   Why  don't 
you  go  back?"   [laughter] 

ZOLOTOW:   He  didn't  want  to  wish  Hollywood  on  you,  huh? 
ENGEL :   And  so  that  was  my  big  contact. 
ZOLOTOW:   How  old  were  you,  Jules? 

ENGEL:   I  was  seventeen.   And  then  I  had  an  introduction  to 
an  artist;  I  think  I  got  that  from  a  high  school  teacher  of 
mine.   I  had  the  address,  so  after  this  man  at  the  Chamber 
of  Commerce  had  given  me  the  money  to  go  back  home  to 
Evanston,  I  then  decided  to  look  up  this  artist.   And 
that  was  something  that  bugged  me  already  then,  because 
the  word  artist--I  had  no  idea  what  the  hell  I'm  going  to 
get  into. 

I  was  near  the  place  that  this  man  was  living.   He 
was  living,  as  I  remember,  near  Hollywood  and  Highland, 
somewhere  there.   I  saw  a  man  on  a  corner  painting  a  land- 
scape.  He  kept  holding  the  pencil  up  in  one  hand,  you  know, 
looking  through  for  perspective  or  something. 

And  I  said,  "Oh,  no,  shit — if  that's  the  guy,  oh  boy, 
I'm  already  in  bad  shape."  Because  at  that  time  already  I 
had  ideas,  and  I  thought,  "No,  my  God,  if  that's  him — " 

Anyway,  I  had  no  choice.   I  had  to  go  to  his  apartment. 
Well,  it  wasn't  him--it  was  another  man,  luckily,  but  he 
was  also  a  strange  one.   He  painted  landscapes  of  Arizona, 
and  then  he  would  go  up  there.   He  painted  the  landscapes 
here,  and  then  he  would  go  up  to  Arizona  and  sell  them  there. 
He  did  extremely  well.   Now,  he  was  the  guy  who  knew  somebody 
at  the  Charles  Mintz  Studio. 
ZOLOTOW:   Do  you  remember  his  name? 

ENGEL:   I  think  his  name  was  [Ken]  Strobel.   He  painted 
landscapes  of  Arizona.   He  knew  somebody  at  the  Charles  Mintz 
Studio.   He  recommended  me  there,  because  I  had  no  way  of 
making  a  living,  really.   I  was  very  good  at  doing  pen-and- 
ink  drawings  at  that  time. 

ZOLOTOW:   Had  you  had  any  training,  at  this  point? 
ENGEL:   I  had  very  little  at  the  high  school.   I  had  like 
four  years  of  art  school.   I  went  to  Evans  ton  Academy. 
(Evanston  had  a  kind  of  art  school  called  Evanston  Academy 
of  Fine  Art.)   As  a  high  school  student,  I  would  go  there 
evenings  and  draw,  m.ostly  designs  and  that  sort  of  thing. 
They  would  set  up  the  material  for  a  still  life  and  so  forth. 
ZOLOTOW:   Were  any  of  the  original  teachers  any  good? 
ENGEL:   Well,  I  don't  recall  that  I  had  too  many  teachers, 
really.   I  mean  that  person  there  set  up  the  still  life,  and 
I  would  draw  from  it. 

But  now  I  have  to  get  around  to  a  certain  point.   I 

have  to  be  very  specific  here.   To  get  back  to  Strobel,  he 
knew  somebody  at  the  Charles  Mintz  Studio,  so  he  introduced 
me.   But  the  thing  that  he  asked  me  was,  he  would  give  me 
some  photographs  of  the  desert  scene,  and  I  would  then  draw 
pen-and-ink  drawings  of  that,  as  I  was  very  good  at  pen-and- 
ink,  as  I  said.   So  I  would  be  there  six  o'clock  in  the 
morning,  and  I  would  draw  these  pen-and-ink  drawings  of 
landscapes  for  him  until  eight. 
ZOLOTOW:   Did  he  sign  them? 

ENGEL:   [laughter]   You're  ahead  of  me.   I  did  about  a  dozen. 
I  went  there  for  months  and  months  and  months  in  the  morning. 
A  year  or  two  later,  I  don't  know  how  I  picked  up  a  magazine, 
Arizona  magazine,  but,  by  God,  there  were  my  pen-and-ink 
drawings,  and  he  signed  them.   Of  course,  it  was  a  kind  of 
a  compliment  to  me,  because  this  was  a  mature  painter,  a  very 
"fine  painter"  with  a  big  studio  here,  and  yet  my  pen-and- 
ink  drawings  were  good  enough  for  him  to  sign  them.   Then  I 
find  out  later  that  he  also  colored  some--you  know,  put 
color  over  the  prints.   I  was  not  angry  at  the  man,  because 
he  did  introduce  me  to  the  Charles  Mintz  Studio,  which  gave 
me  the  first  job.   So  in  a  sense,  I  felt  that  he  did  me  a 
favor,  and  I  did  him  a  favor,  although  I  wish  to  hell  I  had 
those  drawings  now.   Just  the  reproduction,  just  to  prove 
the  point.   He  was  a  kind  of  real  wheeler-dealer.   He  never 
paid  for  anything. 

ZOLOTOW:   Well,  maybe  we  can  track  the  drawing  down.   What 

magazine  were  they  in? 

ENGEL:   I  think  it's  called  Arizona. 

ZOLOTOW:   Okay,  well,  maybe  we  can  get  some  researchers  to 

work  on  it  and  see  if  we  can  track  them  down. 

ENGEL:   I  remember  definitely  I  saw  one  of  these  drawings 

in  a  magazine  with  his  name  under  it.   Oh,  what  the  hell, 

it ' s  long  ago. 

ZOLOTOW:   What'd  you  do  for  Charles  Mintz  when  you  started 


ENGEL:   Well,  you  could  only  do  one  thing  entering  that 

animation  studio,  and  that  was  to  join  as  an  apprentice.   I 

was  apprentice  animator,  what  they  call  an  "in-betweener . " 

Aside  from  that,  I  used  to  take  a  lot  of  layout  drawings; 

then  I  would  go  over  them  with  my  lines  to  get  it  ready  for 

the  background  department  to  paint.   I  had  a  kind  of  a  nice 

line  that  they  liked,  so  I  would  take  some  very  rough  drawings, 

go  over  them,  and  trace  them  for  background.   The  big  thing 

as  apprentice,  "in-betweener,"  was  that  you're  going  toward 


But  you  asked  me  something  which  is  very  important--if 
at  that  time  when  I  was  going  to  Academy  of  Fine  Arts  in 
Evanston,  if  I  had  teachers  of  consequence.   Well,  now,  you 
see,  this  is  the  very  strange  thing  that  I  have  to  explain. 
It  might  sound  as  if  I  am  not  telling  the  truth,  but  this  is 

the  truth.   When  I  was  in  high  school,  I  already  had  a 

very  definite  idea  that,  for  me,  going  out  and  drawing 

landscapes  or  still  lifes  was  not  quite  the  idea  what 

drawing  or  painting  should  be.   Now,  if  you  ask  me  where 

this  idea  comes  from,  I  have  no  idea.   But  my  feeling  was 

then  that  if  I  would  take  an  empty  piece  of  paper  and  draw 

a  line  or  two  on  it,  even  if  I  put  a  circle  in  a  square  on 

the  paper,  that  that  could  be  a  drawing,  and  that  could  be 

a  piece  of  art.   And  that  should  be  enough. 

ZOLOTOW:   Was  there  anyone  that  encouraged  you  in  this? 

ENGEL :   No,  nobody  encouraged  me,  because  at  that  time  I'd 

never  even  seen  anything  like  it.   I  never  saw  anything 

except--  Because  when  you  grow  up  in  Budapest,  and  you  go 

to  museums  on  Sundays ,  you  go  and  see  the  Rubens  and 

Rembrandts  and  Titians .   But  my  point  of  view  was  already 

that  there  must  be  more  to  painting  and  drawing  than  just 

what  I  have  seen.   In  other  words,  that  you  should  be  able 

to  just  put  anything  on  a  piece  of  paper  of  your  own  invention, 

imagination,  and  that  should  be  art. 

And  the  strange  thing  is  that  in  high  school,  because 
I  already  had  a  very  large  presence  as  a  draftsman,  or  drawer, 
my  high  school  teacher,  somehow —  And  I  don't  think  she  really 
knew  much  about  things,  but  I  remember  that  the  class  would 
go  out  in  the  field  to  draw  the  trees,  and  she  said,  "No,  you 
can  stay  in  the  room,  and  you  do  what  you  want  to  do."   I 

still  don't  understand  why  she  would  let  that  happen,  but 
I  remember  everybody  had  to  go.   And  I  would  stay  in  the 
room  and  draw  my  circles  and  squares  and  lines.   She  went 
along  with  that,  and  yet  I  don't  think  she  knew  what  the 
hell  I  was  doing,  because  I  was  doing  things  out  of  my 
head.   So  this  is  how  I  began.   I  wanted  to  make  this  point, 
since  at  that  early  time,  the  basic  concept  of  what  my  art 
would  be  was  already  there. 

ZOLOTOW:   Can  you  trace  back  and  place  where  you  were 
exposed  to  nonf igurative  art? 

ENGEL:   No.   I  told  you  there  was  no  such  thing.   This  is 
why,  when  people  say  that  you  have  to  have  those  other 
ingredients,  I  have  to  get  back  to  myself  and  say,  "It's 
not  so."   I  say,  "At  that  age,  I  had  these  concepts,  and 
I  made  those  drawings  in  high  school."   I  remember  when  we 
had  to  do  portfolios  and  put  covers  on  them  and  make  the 
designs,  I  was  always  drawing  squares  and  triangles  and 
stuff  like  that,  filling  up  the  space.   I  felt  that  that 
was  already  an  expression,  and  that  should  be  art. 

Now  if  I  were  to  go  back,  I  have  to  go  back  to  certain 
experiences  which  at  that  time  were  strange.   I  remember 
when  I  saw--  I  was  in  an  artist's  studio  once,  and  I  was 
about  twelve,  eleven,  maybe  twelve,  thirteen,  very  little. 
That  man  was  painting,  and  he  was  an  artist.   How  I  got 
there,  I  don't  know.   But  I  remember  he  had  a  big  picture 

on  his  wall.   It  had  kind  of  like  a  kitchen,  and  three  dogs 
were  chasing;  and  one  dog  was  on  the  top  of  the  stairs,  one 
was  in  the  middle,  and  one  was  already  on  the  landing.   What 
fascinated  me,  already  then,  was  not  the  dogs  but  the  fact 
that  there  was  all  that  space  underneath  the  dogs.   And  that 
fascinated  me.   That  space  underneath  the  dogs.   Not  the  dogs. 
The  space.   (And  it  had  some  lines.)   Now,  this  was  the  first 
time,  as  I  think  back,  that  I  said  to  myself,  "That's  inter- 
esting."  At  that  time,  I  was  aware  of  that  and  it  captivated 
me . 

Another  thing  I  was  aware  of  when  I  saw  the  Rubens  and  the 
Rembrandts  and  Titians  was,  you  had  a  head  which  was  enormously 
well  painted,  and  you  would  have  a  hand  which  was  well  painted, 
but  then  you  had  a  whole  section  of  the  canvas  where  you  saw 
the  brushwork.   That  brushwork  fascinated  me  to  the  point  where 
I  said,  "I  like  that  better  than  the  head.   I  see  the  canvas 
coming  through  and  the  rough  feeling  of  the  brush  stroke.   If 
I  could  frame  it,  for  me,  that's  a  painting." 

I  can  make  one  more  point,  which  to  me  is  more  interesting 
today  than  it  was  then.   I  was  never  aware  of  cars,  of  auto- 
mobiles.  I  couldn't  tell  one  car  from  another.   I'm  pretty 
good  at  that  now.   But  I  remember  (I  was  again  around  that  age) 
I  came  around  a  corner  with  my  friends,  and  I  saw  a  car  which 
stopped  me  cold.   For  the  first  time,  I  noticed  a  car.   I 
noticed  a  car,  and  it  really  was  an  experience.   What  grabbed  me 

was  the  front  of  the  car,  the  enormous  simplicity.   Again, 
as  I  say,  at  that  early  time,   I  asked  my  friends  what  it 
was.   And  that's  the  first  time  that  I  ever  wanted  to  know 
what  a  car  was.   It  v;as  simply  that  I  liked  the  front.   It 
had  the  kind  of  a  structure  that  I  reacted  to.   And  what  the 
hell  do  you  think  it  was?   It  was  a  Rolls-Royce.   But  the 
Rolls-Royce  front  had  that  classical  shape.   Later  in  time,  I 
realized  these  things — that  there  was  a  gut  reaction  you  can't 
explain.   But  why  did  I  react  to  that  shape?   I  never  cared 
for  a  car,  and  I  never  looked  at  a  car.   When  I  saw  that,  I 
said  to  myself,  "My  God,  that  is  something." 

So  somehow — I  come  to  a  very  early  point  here,  or 
conclusion--I  reacted  because  I  had  to.   Sometimes  you  do 
in  life  what  you  have  to  do  1   In  other  words,  all  these  things 
later  were  very  obvious,  and  you  see  I_  had  no  choice. 

Now,  this  idea  of  having  no  choice  is  present  in  a  lot  of 
people.   I  remember  listening  to  Jacques  Tati  a  couple  of 
years  ago,  and  I  asked  him  why  he  makes  comedy.   Tati 
simply  answered,  "I  have  no  choice." 

Now,  I  have  heard  that  from  other  people,  and  sometimes 
that  no  choice  comes  very  early.   But  the  fact  that  I  saw 
that  Rolls-Royce  and  that  structure;  saw  the  dogs  and  the 
space  underneath  the  dogs;  saw  the  Rubens,  the  Rembrandts, 
the  Titians,  and  those  large  areas  in  the  canvas  where  you 
just  see  texture — I  was  drawn  to  all  that  at  a  very  early 
time.   But  I  never  studied  abstract  paintings  when  all 


these  things  were  happening,  but  already  my  thinking 
was  coinciding  with  those  things.   And  yet  they  were 
not  abstractions  —  they  were  part  of  a  painting,  or  part 
of  an  object  that  I  had  an  immediate  simpatico  with.   So 
I  know  it  might  sound  silly,  what  I'm  saying  now,  but 
this  is  the  way  that  all  my  work  is  started. 

ZOLOTOW:   When  you  got  into  film,  did  you  feel  a  contradic- 
tion between  what  film  was  asking  you  to  do  and  your  own 
impulse  to  create  the  forms  that  you  were  interested  in? 
ENGEL:   Well,  no.   At  first,  when  I  got  in  there,  I  didn't 
worry  about  that,  because  it  gave  me  the  first  opportunity 
to  be  in  a  professional  environment,  an  environment  where 
things  can  happen.   I  wanted  to  get  in  there.   I  didn't 
care  how  I'd  get  in  there  just  as  long  as  I  got  in  there. 
And  then  what  was  going  to  happen  later,  of  course,  I  could 
do  something  about.   But,  you  see,  my  first  big  impact  of 
the  world  of  the  arts,  in  my  gut,  was  when  I  saw  the  Ballet 
Russe  de  Monte  Carlo.   Then  I  saw,  for  the  first  time,  music, 
movement,  dancing,  painting--all  those  things  combined.   So 
that  was  the  thing  that  propelled  me  to  get  into  an  environ- 
ment where  I  could  function  on  all  those  levels. 
ZOLOTOW:   You're  decribing  two  forces,  then:   the  inner 
force  toward  a  certain  formalism,  then  this  external  force, 
the  richness  of  full  drama-art.   Both  these  were  working 
on  you. 


ENGEL :   But  that  was  the  biggest  impression  on  me  as  a 
young  person;  because  there,  for  the  first  time,  I  saw 
the  direction  I  might  want  to  involve  myself  in.   The 
sense  of  movement  always  interested  me--I  mean,  the 
sense  of  movement  as  in  dancing.   That  from  the  first 
always  interested  me,  and  it  was  already  part  of  me. 
But  again,  you  see,  in  the  dancer's  movement  you  have 
enormous  simplicity.   You  have  structure,  but  you  have 
the  simplicity,  because  you  can't  lie  with  movement. 
When  you  move,  you  don't  lie.   You  have  no  choice.   When 
you  make  with  the  words,  you  can  say  things  that  somebody 
else  will  come  and  say,  "No,  he  means  that." 
ZOLOTOW:   What  do  you  mean,  Jules?   Aren't  there  phony 

ENGEL:   I'm  not  talking  about  phony  dancers.   I'm  talking 
about,  for  instance,  athletes  and  the  Martha  Grahams  and 
the  Ballet  Russe.   I  mean,  when  a  man  runs,  he  runs,  and 
that's  all  there  is  to  it.   When  a  man  jumps  for  a  ball, 
and  he  wants  to  put  it  into  a  basket,  he  jumps.   And  no 
one  can  come  up  and  explain,  now,  well,  he  meant  this  or 
that.   And  you're  going  to  say  something,  and  five  other 
people  will  interpret  what  you're  saying.   But  if  I  run  a 
100-yard  dash,  no  one  can  interpret  this:   I  am  either 
going  to  get  there  before  you  do,  or  you  are  going  to  get 
there  before  I  do .   So  in  that  area  of  movement,  you  can 


have  this  enormous  simplicity  and  directness.   It  is  a 
kind  of  total  expression.   And  in  my  work,  my  early 
thinking  was  that  when  you  got  to  a  line,  it's  a  kind 
of  statement  with  enormous  simplicity. 

Where  these  things  came  from,  you  see,  is  what  we're 
talking  about  here.   Where  it  came  from,  it  came  from 
my  gut,  and  from  no  place  else.   And  this  is  why  often, 
when  people  say  you  need  this  and  this  and  that  to 
arrive  to  this  thing,  I  don't  think  so.   Because  my 
whole  experience  in  my  life  has  always  been  against 
that.   In  other  words,  when  I  had  a  concept-- 

I  remember  in  high  school,  they  were  putting  on  a 
stage  performance.   I  was  very  much  involved  in  that  scene. 
And  I  recommended  not  to  use  anything  as  a  set,  just  to 
use  a  bench,  a  table,  and  a  chair.   They  looked  at  me 
like  I  was  out  of  my  mind.   But  then,  five  or  ten  years 
later  they  were  doing  Our  Town,  where  they  did  nothing 
but  use  a  chair  or  a  table.   But  where  the  hell  did  this 
come  from?   I  don't  know  where  the  hell  it  came  from. 
All  I  can  tell  you  is  that  these  things  are  possible, 
that  it  can  come  from  a  person  without  his  ever  being 
exposed  to  anything  of  that  sort. 

ZOLOTOW:   It  seemed  to  arise  simultaneously  in  a  lot  of 
people  at  the  same  time. 
ENGEL:   That  happens.   But  I  wanted  to  just  make  this 


point — and  this  is  kind  of  a  large  statement — that  if 
pure  nonobjective  art  had  never  existed  before  my  present, 
it  would  have  arrived  because  I  would  have  been  doing  it. 
Of  course,  people  have  a  lot  of  art  school,  and  then  they 
have  all  the  teachers,  and  they're  exposed  to  a  lot  of 
things--but  that's  something  else.   But  when  you  arrived 
at  those  things  and  you've  never  been  exposed  to  anything 
like  that  and  you  just  do  it,  well,  that  is  something  else, 
And  maybe  that's  why,  when  I  am  looking  at  nonobjective 
work,  I  often  feel  that  the  stuff  is  not  right,  because  it 
doesn't — not  that  it  doesn't  really  come  from  the  gut,  the 
heart,  but  the  person  has  no  feel  for  it.   If  you  have  a 
feel  for  it,  it  should  be  as  natural  on  the  canvas  as  when 
Cezanne  put  an  apple  on  the  canvas. 

ZOLOTOW:   And  yet  when  you  got  into  film,  you  didn't  feel 
unnatural  doing  representational  images. 

ENGEL:   No,  never,  because  then  I  was  in  another  terrain, 
and  I  had  to  go  along  with  that  aspect  of  it.   Let's  say 
at  the  Charles  Mintz--  Although  the  Charles  Mintz  studio 
experience  for  me  was  a  disaster  because  of  the  people's 
lack  of  sensitivity  of  what  the  world  was  doing,  I 
realized  then  that  there  was  nothing  I  can  do  about  that, 
because  I'm  a  young  fellow,  I'm  a  beginner  and  I'd  better 
keep  my  mouth  shut.   Which  I  believe  at  certain  times  is 
what  you're  supposed  to  do.   But  the  whole  place  was 


very  anti-intellectual,  anti-sensitive  to  art,  anti-art, 
anti-culture.   I  mean,  people  were  doing  that  because  it 
was  a  job,  but  not  with  passion,  not  with  tenderness. 
ZOLOTOW :   Do  you  remember  the  year  that  this  was? 
ENGEL:   Well,  it  had  to  be  '38  and  '39,  see.   But  by  that 
time,  around  that  time,  I  was  exposed  for  the  first  time  to • 
comtemporary  art.   I  think  the  first  one  that  I  saw  was 
here  in  Los  Angeles,  either  a  book  or  something  that  I  saw, 
a  Kandinsky.   And  POW!   That  opened  the  whole  vista.   And 
also  what  was  interesting  about  it,  that  I,  all  of  a  sudden, 
felt  that  I  wasn't  alone.   Because  before  I  always  felt 
that  I  was  alone. 

I  made  little  sketches,  and  I  showed  them  to  my  friends. 
I  remember  I  showed  it  to  a  friend  of  mine--my  first  non- 
objective  little  drawings  and  stuff.   He  was  a  very  good 
commercial  artist;  and  he  looked  at  the  drawings  and  he 
said,  "What  the  shit  are  you  doing,  Jules?   What  are  you 
wasting  your  time  for?   What  is  this  crap  you're  doing?" 

Well,  all  I  could  do,  I  just  put  the  goddamn  thing 
together,  the  little  package,  and  we  went  to  a  party,  and 
the  next  day  I  went  back  to  my  goddamned  little 
abstractions.   In  other  words,  it  could  have  destroyed  me, 
but  it  didn't.   It  didn't  bother  me  that  he  didn't  like  it, 
or  that  he  reacted  the  way  he  did.   It  didn't  really  mean 
a  damn  thing.   I  just  kept  doing  what  felt  right  for  me. 


In  the  studio,  however,  that  was  something  else;  that 

was  a  job.   But  still  I  was  involved  in  getting  closer 

to  things  that  I  wanted  to  get  closer  to.   The  only  way 

to  get  closer  to  this  desire  was  for  a  while  to  work 

with  people  whether  I  liked  them  or  not. 

ZOLOTOW:   What  images  were  you  drawing  for  Charles  iMintz? 

What  were  they--?    '  .  •  ■ 

ENGEL:   Oh,  Jesus--!  can't  remember.   But  those  were 

horrible  things.   I  mean,  they  were  just  awful  things. 

But  as  I  say,  when  you  start,  you  don't  complain.   It  gives 

you,  as  you  know,  the  opportunity  to  work  and  get  experience, 

and  that  was  important.   The  environment  was  bad  because 

the  people  there  were  absolutely  against  anything  that  was 

refined  or  sensitive.   In  fact,  I  remember  a  couple  of  times, 

they  knocked  me  a  little  bit.   In  other  words,  you  were  a 

kind  of  an  "egghead,"  and  "intellectual,"  a  "snob,"  and  all 

that  kind  of  thing.   So  you  kept  your  mouth  shut  and  you 


But  already,  by  that  time,  I  was  in  touch  with  a 
couple  of  people  that  were  working  with  Disney  on  Fantasia. 
In  fact,  I  saw  a  wonderful  photo  in  a  Vogue  of  those 
dandelions  coming  down,  so  I  gave  that  to  a  friend  of  mine 
over  at  Disney,  because  they  were  already  working  on  the 
Nutcracker,  the  whole  suite.   I  gave  him  that  piece  of 
photo  and  I  said,  "Why  don't  you  take  it  there  and  show  him 


that--this  could  be  like  the  ballerinas.   You  know,  use 
those  shapes."   That's  what  happened.   They  used  those 
shapes  in  Tchaikovsky's  Nutcracker ,  at  the  beginning, 
and  then  they  recommended--  Because  by  that  time,  I  was 
doing  a  lot  of  drawings--as  I  say,  I  was  already  a  ballet 
freak--of  dancers  in  movement,  just  line,  you  know.   They 
showed  it  at  Disney  to  somebody.   At  that  time  they  were 
working  on  the  Nutcracker,  and  they  had  a  lot  of  problems 
with  the  "Chinese  Dance,"  the  "Russian  Dance,"  the  "Arabian 
Dance."   So  the  next  thing  I  know,  I  was  called  for  an 
interview  at  Disney,  and  I  was  hired  as  a  consultant  chore- 
ographer, put  immediately  on  the  "Chinese  Dance"  and  the 
"Russian  Dance,"  to  do  the  choreography. 
ZOLOTOW:   Did  you  have  musical  training  at  all? 
ENGEL:   No,  I  didn't  have  musical  training,  but  my  mother 
was  a  pianist.   It  was  something  that  was  around  me,  all 
the  time.   And  a  lot  of  the  theater  was  around  me,  a  lot 
of  theater--not  so  much  movies.   And  because  I  had  this 
experience  at  Charles  Mintz,  so  I  knew  how  to  put  up  a 
continuity  sketch,  you  know,  for  the  choreography. 

Now,  the  problem  at  Disney  was  that  the  word  choreog- 
raphy  got  in  the  way.   They  didn't  know  what  the  hell  it 
meant.   But  it  didn't  matter,  because  I  had  these  drawings, 
and  they  put  me  in  a  unit.   Now,  the  problem  with  the  unit 
was  that  no  one  had  seen  ballet  before  and  no  one  went  to 


the  theater--! 'm  not  going  to  mention  names. 
ZOLOTOW:   Mention  names.   Mention  names! 

ENGEL:   Well,  Norm  Wright  was  the  story  unit  director  of 
this  sequence,  and  Norm  Wright,  at  that  time,  I  don't  think 
he  had  ever  seen  a  ballet.   I  don't  think  he  ever  saw  a 
play.   And  there  was  a  couple  of  other  people:   they  could 
draw  well,  but  they  were  not  into  that  scene.   They  never 
heard  of  the  Ballet  Russe  de  Monte  Carlo,  Ted  Shawn,  or  any 
of  that  world.   And,  of  course,  the  Kandinsky  stuff  or  a 
Paul  Klee  idea  of  art  was  definitely  taboo.   But  here  they 
were  working  on  [the]  "Chinese  Dance,"  and  none  of  them  had 
been  exposed  to  any  of  that  stuff.   So  again  I  come  into  the 
place  like  an  egghead.   And  I  began  to  make  continuity 
sketches  for  the  "Chinese  Dance,"  the  choreography,  and 
then  of  course  the  "Russian  Dance." 

And  that  started  a  big  battle,  between  me  and  the  other 
people  in  the  unit,  because  for  one  thing,  I  was  pushing  for 
the  black,  total  black  environment,  just  black.   Of  course, 
that  was  unheard  of  there. 

"What  do  you  mean,  just  black?   We've  gotta  have  some- 
thing back  there.   We  gotta  have  the  bottom  of  a  tree,  or 
grass"  or  some  crap." 

And  I  said,  "No,  no,  just  pure  black,  just  pure  black 
with  characters  moving,  choreographies  being  done  on  the 
board.   And  nothing,  not  even  the  source  of  light--you  see 


the  light  at  the  bottom,  but  not  as  a  source  of  light." 

Now,  this  thing,  this  enormous  simplicity,  was 
staggering  there,  because  they  wanted  to  go  with  what  they 
called  "production"--f ill  up  the  place,  you  know,  lots  of 
stuff  on  the  screen.   Now,  I  had  a  lot  of  fights  there,  a 
lot  of  fights.   Also  they  wanted  to  do  like  a  Goldwyn. 
They  wanted  to  have  down  shots,  kind  of  like  those  follies 
girls  with  the  down  shots-- 
ZOLOTOW:   Busby  Berkeley. 
ENGEL:   Busby  Berkeley. 

ZOLOTOW :   They  wanted  the  Busby  Berkeley  choreography. 
ENGEL:   But  I'd  already  seen  the  Ballet  Russe  de  Monte  Carlo; 
I  saw  the  "Chinese  Dance"  in  the  Nutcracker  Suite  there, 
and  I  had  all  that  in  my  gut  already.   And  now  comes  again 
the  simplicity,  the  pure  black  and  just  the  shapes.   I  didn't 
design  the  shapes  (the  shapes  were  already  designed) ,  but  the 
way  they  were  going  to  move,  I  did  all  that.   So  we  ended 
up — with  both  of  those,  the  "Russian  Dance"  and  the  "Chinese 
Dance,"  we  ended  up  on  black.   But  the  reason  we  ended  up 
on  black,  I  think,  was  because  at  that  time  the  budget  was 
so  depleted,  that  that  was  the  cheapest  way  of  going.   Now, 
the  strange  thing  is  that  today,  in  Fantasia,  whenever  they 
run  it,  they  always  talk  about  the  "Chinese  Dance"  and 
the  "Russian  Dance" — it  looks  like  it  was  done  today. 
At  that  time  I  had  to  [fight]  them  into  not  getting  a 


Me tro-Goldwyn [-Mayer ]  musical  thing  in  there,  not  getting 

all  that  crap  in  the  background — just  to  go  with  this 

enormous  simplicity. 

ZOLOTOW:   That  was  probably  one  of  the  first  times  that  an 

idea  from  modern  painting  and  modern  art  got  introduced 

in  animation. 

ENGEL :   So,  you  see,  with  all  those  things  in  the  bag,  here 

I  had  the  opportunity  for  the  first  time  to  put  those 

things  into  motion.   But  I  had  an  awful  lot  of  fights  and 

some  very  bad  times  with  my  people  around  me.   All  I  wanted 

to  do  was  just  put  something  on  there  which  I  felt  was  right-- 

there  was  nothing  for  me  to  get  back.   In  fact,  I  didn't 

even  get  credit  on  Fantasia  because  I  was  working  in  this 

particular  area.   And  then  when  I  wanted  choreography  credit, 

I  remember,  the  guy  said,  "What  do  you  mean?   What  does  it 

mean,  'choreography'?"   So  forget  it.   So  the  fellow  who 

animated  the  "Chinese  Dance" — Art  Babbit  did  the  animation-- 

now,  whenever  you  mention  that,  it's  interesting,  because 

it'sArt  Babbit.   But  the  concept,  the  continuity — that 

had  nothing  to  do  with  him.   The  animator  comes  in  when 

the  aesthetics  are  solved. 

ZOLOTOW:   Was  there  anybody  at  Disney  who  was  interested 

in  what  we  call  art,  painting? 

ENGEL:   Well,  they  were  all  painting;  they  were  all  painting. 

But  the  painting  then  had  the  presence  of  what  you  call 


then  the  West  Coast  watercolor — Barse  Miller,  Millard 
Sheets,  and  Phil  Dike,  [who]  was  the  man  who  hired  me. 
ZOLOTOW:   Phil  Dike  was  working  there? 
ENGEL:   He  hired  me.   He  was  the  man  who  hired  me  on 
this  job  after  seeing  those  drawings.   So  that  was  the 
texture  of  the  art  scene. 

ZOLOTOW:   Paris  didn't  exist?   Picasso  didn't  exist? 
ENGEL:   Well,  we  used  Stravinsky,  you  know,  and  all  that. 
Or  Beethoven.   But  then  it  was  almost  as  if  you  were  going 
to  put  them  on  the  map,  you  know.   Or  I  remember,  I  was 
going  into  a  story  meeting  and  they  told  me,  "Don't  use 
the  word  abstract  because  you're  going  to  have  people  look 
at  you  like  you're  a  strange  character." 

In  fact,  I  had  drawings--! ' 11  show  you  some  drawings-- 
I  had  drawings  on  the  story  board,  and  the  guys  used  to 
take  them  off  the  story  board  when  Walt  and  his  entourage 
came  into  the  room  because  they  felt  that  this  kind  of  a 
drawing  might  look  strange.   You  see,  my  approach  to  use 
colors  then  was  like  that. 
ZOLOTOW:   What  years  were  these? 

ENGEL:   This  is  '39,  '39-40.   Now,  you  see,  this  was  not 
the  kind  of  color  approach  to  doing  things  over  there.   I 
was  doing  things  like  that  then. 

ZOLOTOW:   We'll  recapitulate  this  on  videotape,  so  we  can 
see  that. 


ENGEL:   This  was  wild  for  then.   So  what  happened — 
No,  at  the  time  we  were  finishing  Fantasia,  Tom  Codrick, 
who  was  art  director  on  Bambi ,  one  day  stopped  me  in  the 
hall,  and  he  said,  "I  like  this  kind  of  a  way  you  use  color. 
I  would  like  you  to  do  something  on  Bambi ,  but  to  use  color 
like  you  do. 

So  that  was  the  one  nice  thing  that  happened  there, 
that  this  fellow  saw  this  and  he  said,  "I  want  you  to  use 
colors  like  this."   But  while  I  was  working  on  colors  like 
that  on  Fantasia,  I  had  a  lot  of  fights  and  a  lot  of  problems. 
But  these  were  drawings  that  were  yanked  off  the  board-- 
You  see,  just  black.   It  has  this  kind  of  enormous  vitality. 
ZOLOTOW:   In  those  years,  the  difference  between  commercial 
artists  and  art-artists  was  so  aggravated-- 
ENGEL:   Oh,  yes.   Because  you  were  either  an  egghead,  a 
queer,  a  snob--all  kinds  of  strange  tags  were  put  on  you, 
you  know.   I  think  there  were  some  people  there  who  would 
have  a  Cezanne  in  a  room,  maybe.   But  then  Cezanne  was 
already,  for  a  lot  of  people,  very  weird.   So  when  you  come 
to  something  like  Kandinsky-- 
ZOLOTOW:   Did  Walt  ever  collect  art? 

ENGEL:   No,  I  don't  think  he  collected  art,  although  he 
bought  something  of  mine.   I  don't  know  whether  he  has  it 
or  not;  I  know  he  bought  something  from  me--I  think  they 
had  a  sale.   You  see,  you  can't  just  say  Walt,  because  that 


would  be  unfair,  because  at  least  Walt  had  what  I  consider 
a  tremendous  sense  of  integrity  to  himself.   But  he  was 
surrounded  by  people  who  fostered  that,  because  none  of 
them  had  the  guts  ever  to  comment  or  buck  him.   So  he  had 
a  lot  of  people  around  him  who  were  constantly  yessing  him, 
and  they  had  even  less  than  Walt.   That's  not  fair.   They 
had  less  than  Walt,  because  at  least  Walt  had  a  sense  of 
integrity  to  himself.   I  might  not  agree  with  him,  but  he 
believed  really  what  he  was  doing,  whereas  these  other  guys 
were  just  there  for  the  ride.   They  would  go  along  with  him, 
but  he  was  the  total  talent,  and  all  these  other  people 
were  just  working  out  his  fantasies. 

I  remember  at  one  session,  on  Bambi ,  I  recommended 
something,  and  Walt  didn't  care  for  it.   But  then  when  the 
meeting  was  over,  I  remember  one  of  the  guys  came  over  and 
he  said,  "Jules,  you  know,  I  like  your  ideas.   That's  good 

I  said,  "You  son  of  a  bitch,  if  you  like  my  idea,  then 
why  didn't  you  speak  up?" 

Well,  we  were  in  a  meeting,  so,  you  see,  they  wouldn't. 
ZOLOTOW:   Who  hired  Rico  Lebrun  to  work  on  Bambi? 
ENGEL:   I  don't  know  who  hired  him.   I  really  don't  know. 
But,  you  see,  Rico  was  teaching  the  animators--and  I  don't 
think  they  liked  this  idea--how  to  draw  the  animal.   Because 
if  you  see  the  deers  in  Snow  White  and  you  see  the  deer 


drawings  in  Bambi,  you  can  see  an  enormous  difference  of 
drawing  talent,  of  structure,  because  Rico  was  teaching 
them  from  the  inside  out,  you  know.   He  had  the  classes, 
and  you  can  see.   Then  also  they  had  a  couple  of  people 
like  [Bernard]  Garbutt,  who  was  an  animal  artist,  not  a 
cartoonis t--an  animal  artist  who  did  fantastic  drawings 
of  the  deer.   He  could  draw  like  you  write  your  name. 
But  Lebrun  was  an  enormous  influence.   And  also  there 
are  beautiful  books  there,  those  big  books  with  drawings 
of  the  skeleton  of  the  deer  in  every  position  that  you 
can  think  of.   In  fact,  I  have  some  someplace  around  here, 
ZOLOTOW :   Why  don't  we  remember  these  for  the  videotape. 
I'm  going  to  make  some  notes,  because  I  would  like  people 
to  know  about  the  existence  of  those  drawings. 


DECEMBER  29,  1975 

ZOLOTOW:   So  the  only  painters  that  worked  on  Fantasia 
and  the  only  painters  that  worked  at  Disney  before  Bambi 
were  really  the  traditional  California  school  of  conser- 
vative watercolorists? 

ENGEL:   Yes,  with  the  exception  of  one  man,  Kai  Nielsen, 
who's  a  wonderful  illustrator,  a  classical  illustrator 
from  Sweden.   Nielsen  did  the  story  board  on  Night  on  Bald 
Mountain.   Now,  when  you  see  the  material  on  Bald  Mountain, 
in  Fantasia,  when  you  see  the  dancing  of  these  characters, 
you  can  see  these  drawings.   I  mean,  it's  completely  out 
of  character  with  everything  else,  as  far  as  Beethoven.   But 
again,  he  was  a  classical  illustrator.   In  fact,  when  Tom 
Codrick  first  showed  me  some  footage  on  Bambi  and  showed 
me  a  tremendous  amount  of  color  stuff  already,  paintings, 
you  know,  after  he  asked  me  to  do  something  with  color,  I 
said,  "Well,  you  know,  the  problem--and  you  probably  know 
it--I  feel  very  silly,  because  I  can't  paint  like  this, 
because  that  approach  in  using  color  is  like  an  illustrator, 
instead  of  using  colors  dramatically.   Forget  the  aspect 
of  a  book  illustration,  but  use  color  as  you  would  use 
words  in  a  theater."   So  the  whole  idea  which  I  will  come 
back  to  later,  when  we  talk  about  UFA  [United  Productions 
of  America]  was,  don't  paint  backgrounds,  but  make  the  color 


part  of  the  dramatic  intent.   My  ideas  was,  don't  put  the 
character  in  front  of  the  background,  but  put  the  character 
in  the  background.   That's  another  scene. 

ZOLOTOW:   Let's  finish  with  the  years  at  Disney.   When  did 
you  leave  Disney? 

ENGEL:   Well,  I  left  Disney  around,  about  '42  and  then  went 
into  the  Air  Force, 

ZOLOTOW:   Up  to  that  point,  nobody  from  the  world  of  painting 
had  ever  affected  the  Disney  people  in  any  way? 
ENGEL:   You  couldn't  because,  Walt  had  a  point  of  view,  and 
that  point  of  view,  for  him,  was  all  right.   But  that  point  of 
view  of  course  was  Walt's  feeling  about  what  he  wanted.   Walt 
was  a  tremendous  talent.   He  had  the  instinct  of  an  entertainer. 
He  had  an  instinct  of  a  director.   And  he  directed  every  damn 
thing  that  came  out  of  that  place  while  he  was  there.   He 
looked  at  the  rushes,  he  looked  at  the  rough  reels,  and  Walt 
said  yes  or  no.   There's  no  question  about  it.   He  was  an 
entertainer,  but  the  kind  of  entertainer  that  was  right  for 
him.   In  that  sense,  he  was  100  percent.   And  he  would  not 
deviate  from  it.   He  had  a  feel  for  that.   I  remember  we  were 
in  a  session  on  the  "Dance  of  Hours,"  of  the  ostriches,  and 
we  were  in  a  sweatbox,  looking  at  a  rough  reel,  at  the  early 
part,  when  the  ostriches  were  beginning  to  wake  up.   Walt 
looked  at  the  damn  thing,  and  he  said,  when  somebody  wakes  up, 
then  that  person  goes  [Engel  gestures]  like  that,  you 


know.   And  you  say  now,  that  was  right,  for  him,  to  spot 

that.   So  he  had  that  natural  instinct  of  performance, 

like  a  lot  of  directors--like  [D.W.]  Griffith.   I  mean, 

what  the  hell,  Griffith  became  a  great  director,  yet  he 

was  a  lousy  actor.   He  was  such  a  lousy  actor  they  kicked 

him  out  of  the  studio. 

ZOLOTOW:   As  you  talk,  you're  moving  a  lot  like  an  animator, 

which  is  really  interesting.   Do  you  think  that  this  is 

part  of  what  Walt  gave  you,  that  you  took  on  with  you  to 

use  in  other  places? 

ENGEL:   No,  no,  no--no  way.   No  way.   I  think  that  aspect 

of  me  using  my  hands,  [laughter]  I  think  that's  European. 

ZOLOTOW:   That's  Hungarian. 

ENGEL:   I  think  that's  European.   No,  I  didn't  get  anything 

like  that. 

ZOLOTOW:   You  know,  that  particular  gesture  that  you  went 

through  when  you  were  imitating  Walt-- 

ENGEL:   I  was  imitating  him. 

ZOLOTOW:   That's  a  very  animatory  thing  to  do. 

ENGEL:   But  he  had  that  feeling,  you  know,  of  what  was  right, 

what  felt  good,  how  a  person  would  react.   He  had  all  that. 

ZOLOTOW:   Well,  did  you  get  some  of  that  stuff  out  of  those 


ENGEL:   No,  because  if  I  knew  what  he  was  doing  and  why, 

then  I  already  knew  the  stuff.   This  is  obvious.   I  know  I'm 


going  to  sound  goddamned  conceited,  but  I  had  all  those 
feelings.   In  other  words,  I  brought  a  lot  to  that  place, 
in  a  lot  of  those  areas.   But  for  me,  it  was  all  just 
part  of  me,  since  I'd  seen  an  awful  lot  of  ballet  and  an 
awful  lot  of  theater  and  liked  that  world. 

In  fact,  I  was  already  involved  also  in  a  little 
theater.   That's  right,  I  was  very  much  involved  in  a 
little  theater  in  Hollywood.   At  that  time  I  was  in  plays. 
I  did  it  out  of  necessity,  because  I  couldn't  talk  in  front 
of  people.   I  couldn't  open  my  mouth.   So  I  went  to  Anita 
Dickson  Academy  of  Theater  to  take  diction.   I  couldn't 
talk,  I  was  so  scared. 

ZOLOTOW:   But  what  about  the  meetings  at  the  studio? 
ENGEL:   Well,  it  was  very  rough  on  me,  because  I  died 
every  time  I  had  to-- 
ZOLOTOW:   — express  yourself. 

ENGEL:   Or  say  anything.   And  I  was  very  shy,  enormously 
shy.   And  that's  why  sometimes  I  said  very  little  in  those 
big  meetings.   I  was  different  when  I  got  to  know  people. 
But  I  went  to  the  Anita  Dickson  theater  to  overcome  the 
fright,  and  before  you  know  it,  they  put  me  in  a  play.   I 
don't  tell  it  to  lots  of  people.   I  died  every  time  I  went 
on  stage,  but  I  forced  myself  to  do  it,  because  I  knew  I 
needed  to  overcome  this  fright. 

I  know  other  people  say  other  things  about  Walt 


influencing  their  life.   Of  course,  it  would  influence 
you  if  you'd  had  forty  years.   But  I  was  only  there  about 
three  and  a  half,  four  years.   And  I  fought  more  for  what 
I  wanted  to  get  out  into  the  thing  than  I  got  from  them, 
because  as  I  say,  these  people,  most  of  them  were  not 
exposed  to-- 

ZOLOTOW:   Yes,  Walt  had  invented  the  animation  technique, 
the  in-betweening  and  everything  that  you  learned.   I  mean, 
in  a  sense,  everybody  was  his  child. 

ENGEL:   Well,  not  everybody  was  his  child,  and  the  animation 
was  already  on  the  scene,  it  was  already  invented.   All 
that  stuff  was  already  in  motion,  the  in-betweening  and  all  " 
this.   But  Walt  had  ideas.   You  see,  if  Walt  was  a  good 
artist--  Walt,  let's  face  it,  you  know,  he  couldn't  draw 
like  his  talent.   But  it's  not  important,  because  as  I  say, 
like  Griffith  couldn't  act,  he  had  all  the  other  ingredients. 
He  wanted  to  do  things.   You  know,  he  had  these  dreams. 
And  he  knew  how  to  do  it,  because  he  looked  at  the  stock 
and  he  said,  "No,  I  don't  want  this--I  want  that.   Forget 
it."   But  Walt  was  the  drive.   He  was  a  force  in  the  place. 
And  so  you  were  doing  things  with  the  idea  that  he  would 
like  what  you're  doing,  because  he  would  either  come  in  and 
he'd  buy  it,  or  he  would  say,  "No,  I  don't  like  that.   I'm 
not  going  to  buy  that.   So  start  all  over  again."   But  his 
instincts  for  his  needs  were  right.   Naturally  my  desire. 


like  doing  the  "Russian  Dance,"  and  all  that--of  enormous 
simplicity--it  was  bought,  as  I  said,  because  we  ran  out 
of  money.   But  in  other  areas,  he  wouldn't  buy  it,  because 
he  wanted  things  always  to  be  right  in  front  of  you,  not 
hidden.   It  was  never  to  suggest  the  idea.   It  was  put  in 
front  of  you.   But,  what  the  hell,  if  you  could  gain  a 
little  something. 

ZOLOTOW:   Then  after  Walter  was  the  Air  Force.   I  guess 
that  must  be  where  UPA  started. 

ENGEL:   Yes,  the  Air  Force.   Then  came  the  Air  Force,  and 
we  were  at  Hal  Roach  in  Culver  City.   And  UPA  was,  in  a 
small  way,  in  motion.   But  John  Hubley  was  at  Hal  Roach, 
Bill  Hurtz,  Herb  Klynn,  myself,  Rudi  LoRiva,  Willa  Spire. 
So  the  bulk  was  already  in  motion  there.   And  the  good 
thing  there  was  that  a  lot  of  ideas  were  put  into  motion 
doing  training  films  for  the  Air  Force. 
ZOLOTOW:   You  had  more  sympathetic  ears,  didn't  you? 
ENGEL:   Well,  also,  you  see,  the  Air  Force  was  new.   They 
set  up  a  motion  picture  unit,  and  the  people  would  come 
around  and  say,  "Well,  you  guys  know  what  the  hell  it's 
all  about,  so  we're  not  going  to  tell  you  how  to  do  it." 
So  in  the  animation  unit,  where  I  was  involved  now  for  the 
first  time,  because  they  didn't  care,  we  were  able  to  use 
shapes,  sizes,  and  all  kinds  of  things  for  certain  things. 
I  remember  I  had  to  do  a  map--I  had  about  five  or  eight 


cities.   Well,  I  made  little  Kandinsky-like  images  of 
each  city.   I  made  a  down  shot,  so  I  had  to  stand  on  a 
wall.   And  I  remember  bhis  lieutenant  came  in--his  name 
was  Baer,  and  before,  I  think,  he  was  working  with  Orson 
Welles.   He  came  into  the  room  and  (I  was  just  a  sergeant) 
and  he  looked  at  the  map,  and  he  says,  "God  damn  it,  they 
look  like  Kandinsky."   [laughter]   Well,  son  of  a  bitch, 
evidently  he  knew  something  about  art.   But  the  other 
people  didn't  say  that  or  didn't  realize  that.   "Are  you 
kidding?"   He  looked  at  the  map  and  said  that's  what  it  is. 
Well,  in  a  sense  I  was  doing  that.   But  that  is  a  small 
thing.   But  at  the  same  time  we  were  able  to  do  all  kinds 
of  things.   Like  we  were  sending  food  over  to  some  other 
countries,  and  [we  were  supposed  to]  show  the  stuff.   And 
instead  of  using  apples,  oranges,  bananas,  we  used  words: 
apples ,  oranges .   So  in  a  sense,  the  Air  Force  was  by  the 
far  the  best  environment  to  try  out  ideas  that  other  studios 
[wouldn ' t  use] . 

ZOLOTOW:   If  it  worked,  they  bought  it,  eh? 

ENGEL:  Oh,  they  bought  it.  If  it  worked,  they  bought  it. 
And  they  said,  "Well,  you  know  what  this  is  all  about.  We 
don't."   And  that  was  the  most  democratic  studio  I  had  ever 

worked  in. 

ZOLOTOW:   I  wasn't  aware  of  that. 

ENGEL:   We  could  do  anything  we  wanted  to  do,  and  we  did  it. 


We  tried  out  all  kinds  of  graphic  inventions. 

ZOLOTOW:   Bill  Hurtz  must  have  been  a  kid  in  those  years. 

I  had  the  idea  he  was  a  lot  younger  than  you  and  Hubley 

and  the  others. 

ENGEL:   Funny,  because  he  was  the  one  married  already.   I 

remember  we  would  go  out  to  nightclubs,  and  they  would 

always  ask  for  his  cards,  because  he  had  those  eyelashes. 

ZOLOTOW:   He  just  looked  young. 

ENGEL:   He  looked  like  eighteen — no,  he  looked  like  sixteen. 

But  anyone  with  a  f ace--generally  people  who  have  tiny  noses 

and  big  eyes  and  round  heads-- 

ZOLOTOW:   Was  he  fairly  sophisticated  about  what  was  going 

on  in  the  world  of  painting? 

ENGEL:   Yes,  well,  this,  you  see,  is  what  then  motivated 

UPA,  because  men  like  Hurtz  and  like  Hubley--and  of  course 

Herb  Klynn  was  a  very  important  man.   He's  always  been 

overlooked  and  not  given  credit.   Herb  was  the  first  of 

what  I  consider--don ' t  forget  we're  talking  about  that 

world--was  the  first  really  fine  graphic  artist  in  the 

whole  business,  including  Disney  and  everybody  else. 

ZOLOTOW:   I  remember  Herb  Klynn  used  to  get  copies  of 

Arts  et  Metiers  Graphiques  and  Gebelsgraf ik — all  the 

European  art  magazines.   I  remember  him  as  being  aware. 

Now,  was  that  true?   He  was  totally  aware? 

ENGEL:   He  was  more  than  aware;  he  was  able  to  do  it. 


Because  I  remember  we  were  working  with  Alvin  Lustig  doing 

the  Magoo  titles,  and  Herb  had  to  go  over  the  damn  thing 

to  correct  the  lettering.   Fantastic  lettering!   Airbrush, 

colorist--he  had  that  stuff. 

ZOLOTOW:   Is  he  as  important  a  factor  as  Hubley? 

ENGEL:   Well,  for  me,  yes,  because  the  first  titles  on  UPA 

films,  on  the  early  three  that  we  did  for  Columbia,  if  you 

see  the  title  pages,  it  was  all  designed  by  Herb.   Now, 

those  were  the  first  really  sophisticated  titles  that  came 

out  of  the  whole  goddamned  motion  picture  industry.   Let  me 

put  it  that  way. 

ZOLOTOW:   Where  was  Herb  trained? 

ENGEL:   Ohio.   And  he  had  a  very,  very —  I  mean,  his  training 

was  very  strong.   And  he  knew  about  color.   He  knew  about 

the  chemistry  of  color.   He  did  airbrushing  that  you 

couldn't  believe. 

ZOLOTOW:   Did  he  know  about  French  painting? 

ENGEL:   He  knew  everything  about  all  that!   He  was  with  us 

at  Culver  City.   But  he  was  a  civilian  working  for  the  Air 

Force.   UPA  was  already  in  motion  on  Vine  Street,  and  I  was 

working  there,  evenings  or  weekends,  doing  coloring.   They 

needed  a  lettering  man  on  a  sequence,  and  I  said,  "There's 

a  guy  in  the  Air  Force.   His  name's  Herb  Klynn.   He's  very 

good  at  lettering."   Well,  they  got  him  up  there.   And 

that  was  it.   That  was  the  beginning.   I  got  him  up  there. 


ZOLOTOW:   That's  fabulous. 

ENGEL:   Yes.   And  you  see,  if  you  realize  that  those  title 
cards  were  an  early  UPA  function  from  the  very  beginning 
and  they  were  all  designed  by  Herb--now  you  put  those 
cards  against  all  the  other  stuff  in  the  whole  industry, 
including  the  live  action — nobody  had  that  effect.   That 
was  the  thing  that  started  even  the--because,  you  see, 
then  we  had  the  first  job  at  UPA,  "Fourposter , "  which  was 
Hubley's  job.   The  motion  picture  people  seeing  those 
titles  was  also  a  reason  why  the  jobs  came  to  UPA.   That 
was  the  first  live  action  picture  where  you  really  had 
titles.   Saul  [Bass]  came  much  later.   In  fact.  Herb  and 
I  were  doing  outside  jobs  for  the  Mirisch  Company,  about 
eighteen  full-page  ads  in  Variety  and  the  Hollywood  Reporter. 
We  did  a  full-page  ad,  which  is  the  first  one,  I  think  in 
1951  or  '52  for  A  Woman  with  Four  Faces  (I  have  that  some- 
place) ,  where  she  [Joanne  Woodward]  won  the  Oscar.   Full- 
page  ads  in  Variety  and  Reporter .   [The  movie  in  question  ■ 
was  actually  called  The  Three  Faces  of  Eve  (1957) .]   So  we 
were  doing--see,  this  is  Herb's  contribution. 
ZOLOTOW:   Wasn't  Herb  involved  in  a  law  suit  with  Saul? 
Wasn't  that — ? 
ENGEL:   No,  that  was  Les  Goldman. 

So  Herb,  for  me,  was  very  important  in  the  whole 
structure  of  the  picture  business,  and  then  if  you  want  to 


come  down,  just  the  animation  business,  because  he  was 

the  first  man  who  was  able  to  put  this  kind  of  a  really 

refined  typography  on  the  screen,  plus  color.   Because 

he  was  the  one  responsible — 

ZOLOTOW:   I'm  interested  in  this  connection  to  painting. 

ENGEL:   Now,  he  was  painting  all  the  time  here.   He  was 

painting  all  the  time.   In  fact,  we  had  a  couple  of  shows 

together.   He  was  very  good.   But  then  Herb  got  naturally 

more  and  more  involved  with  management,  because  now,  you 

see.  Herb  was  made  manager  of  the  whole  studio  at  UPA. 

See,  he  not  only  had  these  other  talents  [with]  the  brush, 

but  he  was  very  good  in  an  executive  area,  to  write  up 

contracts  and  all  of  that.   Of  course,  also  there's 

another  side.   But  he  was  put  into  that  position,  and  he 

was  very  good  at  that.   So  he  was  painting,  and  although 

he  still  paints,  his  painting,  even  five,  eight,  ten  years 

back,  was  already  on  a  downfall,  because — 

ZOLOTOW:   Can  you  visualize  to  me  what  it  was  like  when  it 

was  good--say,  fifteen  years  ago--what  he  was  interested  in? 

ENGEL:   Very  articulate.   He  always  painted  people  or  houses 

and  streets,  all  that,  very  articulate  painting  at  first, 

almost  a  little  bit  like  [Charles]  Sheeler,  the  early 

paintings . 

ZOLOTOW:   The  American  Sheeler? 

ENGEL:   Yes.   You  know,  he  painted  those  factories. 


ZOLOTOW:   Sure,  like  photography.   Very  much  like  photo- 
graphic images. 

ENGEL:   Well,  he  had  perspective  in  his  work.   Herb  was 
painting  like  that  then,  very  hard-edge,  but — 
ZOLOTOW:   Sheeier  was  the  only  one  in  America  doing  it 
at  that  time. 

ENGEL:   Sheeier  has  a  lot  of  atmosphere  and  mood,  whereas 
Herb  had  a  very  beautiful  color  sense,  excellent. 
ZOLOTOW:   Flat. 

ENGEL:   And  very  flat.   Then  he  goes  away  from  that  and 
gets  very  impressionistic  and  stuff  like  that.   But  he 
didn't  develop. 

ZOLOTOW:   But  it  is  kind  of  a  sign  that  he  was  aware 
and  influenced  by  that  whole  Georgia  0 ' Keef f e- [ John]  Marin- 
Sheeler  American  school. 

ENGEL:   No,  he  had  all  of  that.   Herb  had  all  of  that.   Well, 
Hubley  was  aware;  Bill  Hurtz  was  aware;  and  I  was  aware. 
So  that,  you  see,  was  the  gut  of  the  UPA.   Now,  the  other 
most  important  man  was,  of  course,  Robert  Cannon,  the 
animator.   And  Robert  Cannon  was  the  important  man.   And 
also  what  was  about  Cannon  was  that  he  had  this  idea  again 
of  how  to  move,  how  to  animate.   Which  was  not  the  Disney 
approach.   Some  people  call  it  animation,  which  it's  not. 
But  the  thing  about  Cannon--because  I  worked  closely  with 
him--was  that  Cannon  was  open  to  ideas  and  wanted  to  do 




fresh  and  new  things.   He  would  go  along  with  me  and  Herb 
because  he  didn't  have  the  graphic,  the  color,  like  Hubley 
had.   Hubley  had  all  that,  because  Hubley  was  painting  and 
whatnot.   But  Cannon  was  not  that.   Cannon  was  an  animator, 
a  most  creative  animator,  and  a  filmmaker.   But  all  of  that 
was  instinctive.   It  was  intuitive  with  him.   Hub  was  more 
the  artist.   But  Cannon  would  go  with  Herb  and  me  on  visual 
or  graphic  concepts,  you  see,  because  he  knew  that  was  right 
and  he  knew  instinctively.   This  is  how  Jaywalker,  Fudget' s 
Budget,  stuff  like  that  were  created.   See,  Hub  left  very 
early —  Hub  left  in  '52  or  '53. 

ZOLOTOW :   I  have  wondered,  in  my  mind,  to  distinguish  between 
what  the  Disney  people  were  thinking  about  movement  and  the 
way  you  people  started  to  think  about  movement,  and  one 
idea  popped  into  my  head  that  I  want  to  test  on  you.   Disney 
was  always  trying  to  create  sort  of  Renaissance  space.   All 
his  movements  had  to  be  the  movements  of  volumes  in  space. 
But  it  appeared  to  me  that  cubist  space,  flat  space,  suddenly 
appeared  in  UPA,  and  that  made  it  possible  to  make  moves 
that  weren't  volumes  in  space  but  were  moves  parallel  to  the 
picture  plane  and  other  moves.   Now,  am  I  crazy,  or  is  that 
really — ? 

ENGEL:   Well,  you're  putting  it  into  a  very  intellectual  and 
sophisticated  level,  because  this  feeling  of  Renaissance 
space  and  all  that--Disney  wouldn't  know  what  the  hell  you 


were  talking  about.   You  don't  need  to  make  an  intellectual 
movement  out  of  something  that  had  nothing  to  do  with  intel- 
ligence.  Disney  was  strictly  commercially  oriented.   His 
people  working  at  the  studio  wouldn't  know  what  you  were 
talking  about  either.   Nor  would  his  animators.   What  they 
were  aware  of  was  that  they  had  to  create  personalities  in 
order  for  a  studio  like  that  to  exist,  to  function.   And 
this  is  where  Walt  was,  again,  what  he  was.   He  had  to 
create  personalities.   Mickey  Mouse  was  a  personality  but 
certainly  not  Renaissance  in  any  way.   Mickey  Mouse  was 
like  a  [Charlie]  Chaplin,  let's  say,  for  another  studio. 
Donald  Duck,  let's  say,  came  like  a  Jerry  Lewis.   In  other 
words,  they  had  to  create  personalities  in  order  for  the 
studio  to  live,  to  function.   Like  Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer  had 
people  under  contract.   So  when  you  create  this  kind  of 
personality,  which  is  very  close  to  reality,  you  have  to 
animate  them  as  close  to  reality  as  you  possibly  can.   So 
whatever  was  going  on  around  the  character,  it  was  a  natural 
thing  that  if  you  have  a  character,  like  a  Donald  Duck  or  a 
Goofy,  who  had  all  the  characteristics  of  a  human  being 
moving,  they  had  to  put  him  in  a  room,  which  has  the  charac- 
teristic of  a  natural  environment.   They  were  thinking  on 
that  level.   But  the  important  thing  was  to  create  personali- 
ties,  [phone  rings;  tape  recorder  turned  off] 
ZOLOTOW:   Yes,  go  back  to  the  Disney  days  a  little. 


ENGEL:   So  Disney  was  out  to  create  personalities,  like 
a  major  studio  had  a  Clark  Gable  and  a  Harold  Lloyd  and 
Douglas  Fairbanks  and  all  those  people  under  contract. 
They  became  merchandise  of  the  major  studios.   So  Disney 
was  creating  personalities  in  order  to  hang  the  whole 
studio  on  it.   If  you  have  personalities  like  that,  then 
naturally  they  are  going  to  impersonate  a  real  person, 
and  then  they  had  to  move  like  a  real  person.   And  if 
you're  going  to  have  a  real  person  working  for  you,  then 
the  physical  environment  has  to  also  be  real.   The  best 
people  that  could  give  that  reality  were  the  painters  that 
were  functioning,  and  they  were  thinking  of  painting  of 
that  kind.   And  one  of  the  large  talents  as  a  painter- 
talent,  I  think,  was  Lee  Blair,  who  was  also  one  of  the 
great  West  Coast  watercolorists ,  like  Barse  Miller,  Millard 
Sheets,  Phil  Dike,  and  even  Emil  Kosa,  Jr. 
ZOLOTOW:   Did  Kosa  work  for — ? 

ENGEL:   No,  but  these  were  the  people  that  made  the  scene. 
And  all  the  painters  at  that  time  were  influenced  by  these 
people's  watercolors.   So  the  Disney  background  painters 
were  all  painters  of  that  ilk.   They  had  no  other  desire, 
and  they  had  no  other  need.   Barse  Miller  and  Millard 
Sheets  and  Phil  Dike  were  the  best  of  that  type.   Also, 
the  film,  the  character,  needed  that  kind  of  environment. 
Of  course,  that  was  Walt's  bag,  working  in  that  terrain. 


ZOLOTOW:  Well  now,  wait  a  minute.  The  characters  were 
abstract.  I  mean,  what  the  hell  could  be  more  abstract 
than  Mickey? 

ENGEL:   You  might  use  the  word  abstract,  but  they  would 
die  if  you  used  the  word  abstract . 
ZOLOTOW:   I  understand  that. 

ENGEL:   No.   Mickey  Mouse  is  not  abstract  like  abstract 
art.   As  far  as  they  were  concerned,  the  characters  had 
dimension.   The  characters  were  three-dimensional.   And 
then  you  go  into  Snow  White,  and  Snow  White  was  airbrushed, 
and  the  face  was  three-dimensional.   In  Bambi  the  characters 
were  three-dimensional.   They  had  volumes;  they  had-- 
ZOLOTOW:   Yes,  but  the  volumes  were  always  eggshapes , 
ellipses.   In  a  sense,  that's  a  high  degree  of  abstraction. 
ENGEL:   They  had  to  do  that  in  order  to  give  it  a  kind  of 
structure  that  anybody  can  pick  up  and  say,  "Here's  the 
structure."   The  head  is  a  circle,  the  body  is  an  eggshape . 
So  you  had  to  have  the  structure  underneath  all  that  so 
anyone  can  pick  it  up  and  work  with  it,  and  also  because  it 
was  easier  to  maneuver,  to  animate  those  shapes.   You  can 
put  a  structure  in  that  very  easily  and  locate  the  place 
for  the  eye  and  the  nose  and  all  that.   But  the  whole  aspect 
of  it  was  still  a  natural  environment,  where  a  three- 
dimensional  person  who  behaves  like  a  real  person  can 
function;  therefore,  the  painter  had  to  be  painterly,  didn't 


have  to  be  an  artist.   He  was  more  or  less  a  renderer. 

ZOLOTOW:   Except  I  do  remember  distortions  of  size, 

distortions  of  color. 

ENGEL:   Well,  the  size  and  all  that.   You  have  no  choice. 

You  got  to  have  that  because  you're  still  working  with 

the  film.   You're  working  with  a  medium  that  is  the 

property  of  the  poets.   But,  you  see,  a  lot  of  those 

things  came  about  because  they  had  no  choice.   They  had 

to  go,  but  it  was  never  done  with  any  kind  of  a  static 


ZOLOTOW:   Well,  most  painters  don't  do  their  own--  Theories 

come  after  the  fact,  right? 

ENGEL:   Yes,  somebody  thinks  them  up  later. 

ZOLOTOW:   Naturally,  Walt  and  those  guys  wouldn't  have 

theory.   But  you  must  see,  you  know,  that  theirs  was  not  a 

school  of  photorealism,  and  theirs  was  not  a  school  of 

realism.   Theirs  was  a  pretty  abstract  way  of  drawing  and 

painting,  even  though  they  didn't  know  it. 

ENGEL:   As  far  as  they  were  concerned,  their  scene  was 

realism,  total  realism  when  they  painted  the  leaves  and  the 


ZOLOTOW:   They  thought  mice  looked  like  Mickey?   [laughter] 

ENGEL:   Come  on--  I  mean  when  they  painted  the  trees  and 

the  grass  and  the  meadows  and  the  flowers  and  all  that,  it 

was  really — if  you  were  around  there,  that  was  realism. 


And  if  you,  as  I  say,  look  at  the  Snow  White  backgrounds, 
Peter  Pan,  Pinocchio ,  you  know,  Bambi  backgrounds-- [they 
are]  almost  photographic.   And  once  in  a  while  they  would 
get  off,  maybe,  and  push  the  other  way,  but  the  other  way 
was  not  good  because  that  wasn't  Walt's  scene.   This  is 
where  you  have  to  give  the  man  his  credit.   No  matter 
what  happened  with  any  other  person  in  the  world,  and  no 
matter  how  successful  it  was,  Walt  said,  "That's  not  me." 
And  he  said  that!   "That's  not  me.   I  can't  think  that 
way."   I  mean,  he  was  aware  of  UPA--people  mentioned  and 
things  were  said  about  UPA--but  Walt  said,  "That's  not 
me."   And  in  that  sense,  you  have  to  give  him  his  credit, 
that  he  wouldn't  just  say,  "Hey,  look,  those  guys  are 
doing  something  great  over  there.   Why  don't  we  do  it 
better?"   Frankly,  when  they  tried  to  do  something  like 
that,  and  although  they  say  it's  not,  it  was  bad,  [like] 
Toot,  Whistle,  Plunk,  and  Boom.   I  don't  care  what  they 
say — because  they  say,  "No,  it's  not  UPA  inf luence"--but 
damn  it,  it  is  UPA  influence  because  they  tried  to  go  into 
the  flat  design.   And  it's  a  disaster,  because  the  taste 
is  bad,  the  color  is  bad.   They  didn't  work  it  from  in 
their  gut,  you  know.   They  were  working  it  like,  "Look, 
Ma,  I  made  an  abstraction." 

In  other  words,  they  had  the  talent  to  do  the  other 
stuff,  but  in  this  area,  for  me,  they  only  worked  the 


surface,  and  the  surface  wasn't  good.   And  this  is  what  a 
lot  of  people  don't  understand  about  UPA,  because  even 
now,  you  hear  animators  talk  about  like,  "Oh,  yeah,  we'll 
do  those  backgrounds,  we  do  those  backgrounds."   But  it's 
not  good  because  they  don't  work  it  out.   They  just  look 
at  it,  and  they  think,  "We'll  copy  it." 

ZOLOTOW:   There's  no  question  that  Disney  worked  from  his 
gut.   And  I  think  that's  why  the  young  people  now  look 
back  and  see  Disney  through  different  eyes.   Now,  how  about 
you?   Does  Disney's  stuff  look  different  to  you  now  than  it- 
did  when  you  were  in  the  middle  of  it,  rebelling  against  it? 
Do  you  place  a  higher  value  on  it,  now? 

ENGEL:   No,  I  don't.   I  feel  that  it  was  right  for  the  time, 
and  it  was  right  for  Disney.   And  it  was  right  for  the 
animators.   There  are  sequences,  there  are  moments  in  some 
of  the  Disney  efforts,  like  the  pink  elephant  sequence  in 
Dumbo,  when  you  see  that  thing  today,  it's  magic,  it's 
beautiful.   And  how  the  hell  that  ever  got  made  in  that 
environment  is  still  a  mystery.   That  is  a  beautiful  piece 
of  motion,  movement.   But  I  don't  get  taken  with  the  stuff. 
I  admire  the  craft,  and  you  have  to  start  someplace.   But 
it's  craft. 

ZOLOTOW:   I  notice  you're  not  wearing  a  Mickey  Mouse  watch, 
ENGEL:   I  could  never  do  that,  because  I  cannot  advertise 


other  people.   I  don't  want  to  advertise  other  people. 
That's  what  you're  doing  when  you  carry  it.   But  I  still 
don't  have  that  feel  for  what  they  did,  because,  damn  it, 
when  I  see  some  stuff  of  Jan  Lenica  or  [Walerian] 
Borowczyk  or  I  see  an  early  [Oskar]  Fischinger  or  a  [Norman] 
McLaren,  it's  still  the  thing  that  turns  me  on.   And 
although  I  admire  the  craft,  the  animation  know-how,  of 
Pinocchio  and  some  of  the  Bambi  stuff,  it  doesn't  turn 
me  on,  you  see.   So  that's  the  difference.   And  in  that 
sense  my  feeling,  my  sensitivities  are  not  changed.   But 
I  do  admire  Disney  as  a  person  who  had  a  sense  of  direction. 
And  he  would  never  let  go,  just  to  get  on  a  bandwagon  of 
another  art  form,  good,  bad — 

But  then  again,  in  the  world  of  entertainment,  you 
know,  there  is  an  enormous  amount  of  room  for  all  kinds 
of  endeavors.   There  are  people  who  would  be  entertained 
with  that,  and  there  are  people  who  will  not  be  entertained. 
And  you  can't  just  go  one  direction,  because  you're  still 
dealing  with  the  mass  media.   You're  still  dealing  with 
mass  entertainment  of  a  kind. 


JANUARY  23,  19  76 

ZOLOTOW:   The  room  is  filled  with  film  cans,  animation 

cells,  sculpture,  painting,  the  products  of  a  long  and 

active  career  as  a  painter  and  sculptor  and  filmmaker. 

[tape  recorder  turned  off]   The  area  you  are  living  in 

is  surrounded  by  all  wonderful  things,  Jules.   Is  that 

why  you  moved  here  to  Beverly  Hills?   Why  do  you  live 


ENGEL:   Well,  because  it's  about  the  closest  thing  to  a 

city  in  L.A. ,  and  I  love  cities.   I  like  the  idea  of 

walking  out  on  the  street  and  walking  to  a  shop,  walking 

over  to  the  laundry,  or  walking  over  to  the  bank  or  the 

post  office.   And  I  like  the  feeling  of  the  city  itself: 

I  like  buildings,  I  like  windows,  I  like  front  doors,  I 

like  hotel  lobbies.   I  would  really  like  to  live  in  New 

York.   That's  the  kind  of  life  I  like  surrounding  me. 


ZOLOTOW:   Yes,  in  a  way,  it's  like  living  off  Fifth 

Avenue  in  New  York. 

ENGEL:   That's  pretty  good.   Or  Madison  Avenue  and 

Seventy-seventh,  that  environment. 

ZOLOTOW:   When  Frank  Perls  had  his  gallery  here,  did  you 

hang  around  there  a  lot? 

ENGEL:   Yes,  I  used  to  go  up  there  and  see  him.   He  was  a 


great  influence,  you  know,  on  the  Los  Angeles  environment, 
a  great  personality.   Plus  I  spent  some  time  with  him  in 
Paris  at  Deux  Magots.   I  would  find  him  sitting  out  there 
on  the  street. 

ZOLOTOW:   What  about  Herb  Palmer's  new  gallery? 
ENGEL:   I  think  that's  a  great  gallery,  and  he's  a  very 
unique  personality.   He  always  adds  a  lot  of  excitement 
to  the  city.   His  first  shows  were  very  good,  very  inter- 
esting, and  I  just  hope  he  stays  there  and  keeps  it  going. 
It's  the  only  way  you  can  get  a  city  like  Los  Angeles  on 
the  map,  is  to  have  knowledgeable  people  stay  for  years 
and  build  an  art  environment,  you  know. 

ZOLOTOW:   Have  you  been  on  the  whole  disappointed  by  the 
art  scene  and  the  gallery  scene  in  Beverly  Hills? 
ENGEL:   Well,  yes,  because  we  just  don't  seem  to  have  an 
honest  and  in-depth  interest.   It's  a  little  bit  too 
artificial,  too  much  like  table-hopping,  you  know.   This 
is  fashionable  today — that's  fashionable  tomorrow.   There's 
no  reference  to  historical  foundation.   We  are  always 
working  in  a  very  small  group  in  the  city.   You  see,  in 
New  York,  you  have  two  or  three  dozen  large  galleries. 
You  have  half  a  dozen  museums.   So  you  have  all  kinds  of 
avenues  for  expression.    But  here  you  have  someone  who 
can  command  like  a  high  priest,  and  does  command,  "This 
is  the  way  we  go,"  and  everybody  then  follows  him.   In 


other  words,  there  are  no  avenues  here. 

ZOLOTOW:   Have  you  ever  been  tempted  to  move  to  New  York? 
ENGEL:   Oh,  I've  been  tempted  a  hundred  times.   [laughter] 
ZOLOTOW:   What  made  you  resist? 

ENGEL:   I'm  not  resisting;  it's  just  that  the  working  oppor- 
tunities for  me  have  always  somehow  been  here.   But  if  I 
have  a  chance  (as  I  do  once  a  year)  to  go  anyplace,  it's 
always  New  York. 

ZOLOTOW:   But  didn't  John  Hubley  create  a  center  in  New 
York  that  you  might  have  worked  at? 

ENGEL:   Well,  he  has  a  center,  but  that's  not  my  center; 
that's  John  Hubley 's  center  because  Hubley  is  Hubley.   And 
I  am  not  John  Hubley.   I  have  to  consider  my  media  of 
abstract  animation  and  of  art  animation.   This  style  is 
not  in  any  way  commercial  like  Hubley' s.   So  if  I  would 
go  to  New  York,  I  would  create  my  own  center,  and  I  would 
let  Hubley  have  his. 

ZOLOTOW:   Jules!   Here's  this  big,  fat  book  on  Disney, 
and  it  makes  me  think  of  what  we  were  talking  about  when 
you  were  reminded  of  Fantasia ,  the  role  you  played,  and 
what  happened.   Tell  me  about  Fantasia,  and  what  you  did. 
ENGEL:   Well,  I  was  hired  to  do,  very  specifically,  the 
choreography  for  the  "Chinese  Dance"  and  the  "Russian 
Dance,"  and  then  later  I  got  involved  with  "Dance  of  the 
Flutes"  and  the  "Arabian  Dance."   But  evidently  they  had 


problems  with  the  "Chinese  Dance"  and  the  "Russian  Dance," 
because  no  one  in  that  particular  unit  had  any  background 
or  knowledge  or  insight  of  what  the  dance  world  is  all 
about,  what  choreography's  all  about.   And  I  had  some 
drawings,  you  know,  so  I  took  it  over  there.   And  Phil 
Dike  saw  the  material,  and  he  said,  "I  would  like  you  to 
work  on  the  continuity "--which  means  the  choreography--"on 
the  'Chinese  Dance.'"   So  that  was  the  beginning  of  my 
experience  with  the  Disney  studio,  working  on  the  sequences 
of  the  "Chinese  Dance"  of  Tchaikovsky's  Nutcracker  Suite. 
ZOLOTOW:   Did  they  feel  they  were  out  of  their  depth  with 
serious  music? 

ENGEL:   Well,  I  mean,  they  never  really  adapted  serious 
music,  but  Disney  was  going  to  do  this  project,  and  it 
came  from,  you  know,  it  came  from  [Leopold]  Stokowski,  but 
I  also  understand  that  before  Stokowski,  it  actually  came 
from  Oskar  Fischinger,  from  Oskar  Fischinger  to  Stokowski, 
from  Stokowski  to  Disney.   Somehow  they  liked  the  idea, 
and  I  think  Disney  felt  that  he  wanted  to  do  something 
that  was  unique,  something  different,  and  it  was  just  a 
natural  direction.   But  they  were  not  in  love  with  that 
world,  because,  you  see,  they  interpreted  it  into  a  kind 
of  a  calendar  art.   That  was  about  the  height  of  [their] 
aesthetic  intelligence. 
ZOLOTOW:   Did  they  feel  that  that  world  was  above  them,  or-- 


ENGEL :   It  was  above  them,  because,  you  know,  you  were 
easily  made  fun  of  there  if  you  considered  art,  or  were 
considered  to  be  an  artist.   Art  and  art  appreciation  were 
things  that  Disney  was  not  very  comfortable  with--with  the 
exception  of  a  few  people.   But  you  see,  generally,  it  was 
out  of  their  range  completely. 

ZOLOTOW:   But  yet  they  were  deep  into  music.   What  kind 
of  music  was  Disney  involved  with  in  that  period? 
ENGEL:   The  music  they  were  involved  with  would  be  the 
composer  who  would  score — like  they  scored  a  very 
handsome  piece  for  Snow  White.   So  it  was  a  popular 
music,  a  popular  talent,  a  composer  who  would  just  write 
a  popular  tune,  "Whistle  VJhile  You  Work"  and  stuff  like 
that.   Unfortunately  it's  no  different  today.   They  do 
the  same  thing  as  they  did  then--no  progress. 
ZOLOTOW:   I'm  curious  to  know  how  you  introduced  some  of 
your  contemporary  ideas  into  Fantasia .   How  were  they 
visualizing  their  story  boards?   Did  you  play  a  role  in 
changing  their  vision  of  how  Fantasia  should  be  shot? 
ENGEL:   I  was  very  specifically  put  on  the  "Chinese  Dancer." 
Of  course,  they  wanted  to  do  a  Chinese  dance  with  a  lot  of 
mushrooms  jumping  around  the  base  of  a  tree  with  a  lot  of 
roots  and  a  lot  of  weeds  and  this  or  that  all  over  the  place. 
My  intention  was  to  keep  it  very  simple,  to  get  rid  of  all 
the  background  environment  and  just  have  a  nice,  flat. 


simple  black  environment,  black  backdrop  on  a  stage,  you 
see.   Simplicity  is  something  I  have  always  believed  in. 
You  would  have  a  backdrop  and  then  you  need  light--any 
light  source,  just  have  a  light  shade  that  gives  you  the 
idea  that  light  is  coming  from  someplace.   So  this  aspect 
of  just  having  black  and  not  having  any  texture,  any 
physical  gimmicks  around  these  little  characters,  was  very 
difficult  for  them  to  understand.   You  look  at  Fantasia; 
everything  else  is  just  crowded,  constantly  crowded  with 
all  kinds  of  images  and  shapes  and  forms.   But  I  think 
actually  what  happened  with  this  section  was  that  eventu- 
ally they  ran  out  of  money.   Anyway,  that  was  my  under- 
standing.  The  budget  was  quickly  disappearing,  and  the 
fact  that  we  were  going  to  work  with  a  black  background, 
that  means  we  don't  have  to  put  any  background  artists  on 
it.   This  made  sense  to  them,  the  finances.   And  today,  I 
think  it  paid  off  beautifully,  because  both  the  "Russian 
Dance"  and  the  "Chinese  Dance"  have  a  beautiful  presence, 
almost  as  if  they  were  done  today.   That  is  the  test--if 
it  will  hold  today  and  tomorrow.   Naturally  it  was  a  lot 
of  fighting,  an  awful  lot  of  fights  over  that,  to  put  the 
idea  across. 

ZOLOTOW:   Do  you  have  any  drawings  from  that  period? 
ENGEL:   I  have  some  materials  here  which  I  used  to  propose 
the  character  or  the  spirit  of  dancing.   The  color  here 


is  very  important,  because  the  way  I  used  color,  it  was 
again  very  fresh  and  very  much  removed  from  their  use  of 
color,  which  related  more  to  using  color  the  way  an  illus- 
trator would.   In  these  examples  the  primaries  and  the 
secondaries  are  just  as  brilliant  but  loose  and  not 
worked  over,  not  too  much  underpainting  and  all  that  stuff. 
This  is  just  brilliant  colors  on  a  black  background,  v/here 
color  has  a  chance  to  come  through  into  life. 
ZOLOTOW:   Did  Walt  ever  see  these  drawings? 
ENGEL:   No,  Walt  never  saw  these  drawings  because  the 
studio  people  were  a  little  afraid  that  this  stuff  looked 
a  little  too  way  out  than  what  they  were  used  to.   In  fact, 
they  told  me  to  hide  those  drawings  and  not  to  let  Walt  see 
them.   In  fact,  this  is  very  abstract  in  character,  and 
they  told  me  not  to  use  the  word  abstract  when  we  went 
into  sessions  with  Walt,  because,  I  said  before,  you  would 
be  looked  at  as  either  an  egghead  or  an  intellectual  or 
some  kind  of  weird,  weird  character.   So  these  are  some  of 
the  drawings,  you  know,  that  got  by,  however,  even  though 
I  hid  them.   You  know,  if  I  hadn't  put  these  drawings  away, 
someone  would  have  torn  them  up.   The  Disney  people  never 
allowed  you  any  feeling  of  creativity,  just  craft,  copying. 
It  was  a  surprise  to  them  and  a  miracle  to  me  that  these 
drawings  got  in. 
ZOLOTOW:   You  weren't  the  only  egghead  around  during  that 


period.   Wasn't  Rico  Lebrun  on  the  Disney  lot  at  the  time? 
ENGEL:   Rico  was  on  the  Disney  lot  at  that  time.   He  was 
already  training  some  of  the  key  animators,  and  animators 
in  general  that  were  going  to  draw  for  Bambi.   And  I  think 
his  role  was  very  comfortable,  to  be  quite  blunt.   After 
all,  he  was  an  immaculate  draftsman.   All  they  could  do 
was  admire  him,  because  this  is  what  most  of  them  wanted 
to  be.   Or  I  think  they  thought  they  were  safe  with  him. 
He  was  one  of  them;  he  drew  real  things.   They  were  crafts- 
men of  enormous  talent,  but  Lebrun 's  influence  was  very 
important.   You  can  see  the  deer,  for  instance,  in  Snow 
White  and  see  how  it's  almost  a  bad  drawing.   And  you 
compare  the  deer  in  Bambi;  it's  an  enormous  difference. 
At  least  now  they  were  under  the  influence  of  impeccable 
craftsmanship . 

ZOLOTOW:   And  they  knew  where  the  bones  and  muscles  were. 
ENGEL:   Yes,  in  fact,  Lebrun  made  a  number  of  the  sketches, 
and  they  turned  this  into  books.   And  here  you  can  see  a 
drawing  of  Rico  Lebrun' s.   And  it  gave  them  an  idea  of  what 
the  bone  structure  of  the  animal  was  all  about.   He  had, 
I  think,  about  twenty  or  thirty  pages  of  different  drawings — 
any  position,  every  position  of  the  deer.   I  mean,  he  was 
something  very,  very  special,  an  enormous  draftsman,  a  great 
draftsman.   And  that's  what  Disney  wanted. 
ZOLOTOW:   This  is  a  far  cry  from  the  ellipses  that  the 


Disney  people  animated.   Did  they  resist  this  kind  of 
attitude  toward  drawing  when  Rico  introduced  it  at  first? 
ENGEL:   As  I  told  you  already,  Lebrun  was  very  comfortable 
at  Disney.   Actually,  Walt  wanted  the  animals  to  look,  you 
know,  real--at  least  as  much,  or  as  close  to  something 
real.   Now,  when  he  got  to  other  characters,  like  a  small 
rabbit  or  a  skunk,  and  stuff  like  that,  naturally  they 
went  back  to  their  other  style  of  drawing.   But  when  it 
was  deer,  when  it  was  Bambi,  or  the  father  or  the  mother 
of  Bambi,  I  mean,  those  characters  were  extremely  well 
drawn.   So  they  had  no  choice.   They  couldn't  resist  or 
fight  it  because  Walt  wanted  it  to  be  done  that  way.   After 
all,  Walt  was  the  boss  in  the  place.   This  was  his  dream, 
and  these  people  had  to  follow--to  make  the  dream  the 

ZOLOTOW:   Did  you  get  to  know  Rico  during  that  period? 
ENGEL:   Yes,  I  got  to  know  Rico  pretty  well,  not  so  much 
in  there,  but  I  got  to  know  him  after  that  because  he 
used  to  lecture  a  great  deal  at  Frank  Perls 's.  Frank  had 
a  gallery;  he  used  to  lecture  there.   I  knew  him  socially. 
And  he  was  an  enormous  influence  on  the  whole  Los  Angeles 
scene.   Of  course,  two  artists.  Bill  Brice  and  Howard 
Warshaw,  were  really,  at  that  time,  his  disciples,  and  then 
Edith  Wyle  was  very  much--you  know,  she  has  The  Egg  and  the 
Eye  today.   But  Brice  and  Warshaw  really  were  his  students. 


ZOLOTOW:   If  you  consider  how  big  the  Jepson  Art  Institute 
was,  how  do  you  account  for  the  fact  that  so  few  painters 
survived  from  the  number  of  painters  that  passed  through 
Lebrun's  classes? 

ENGEL:   Well,  I  would  say  that  L.A.  art  in  general  was 
based  on  the  Western  watercolorists ,  as  compared  with  the 
New  York  artists,  who  built  their  foundations  on  the 
experimental.   So  in  a  historical  sense,  Lebrun  was  not  a 
trendsetter.   You  cannot  be  safe  with  safe  art.   Anyway, 
what  happened  to  him?   [Herbert  Jepson] 
ZOLOTOW:   I  don't  know. 

ENGEL:   I  saw  him  recently  at  a  dance  festival.   I  think 
the  only  two  who  really  are  around  and  working  and  exhibit- 
ing are  Brice  and  Warshaw. 

ZOLOTOW:   Brice  and  Warshaw  were  already  mature  young  men 
when  they  met  Rico.   Of  the  people  that  Rico  touched  as 
young  students,  can  you  think  of  any  that  are  still  active 
in  painting? 

ENGEL:   Not  really.   I  think  one  reason--when  you  are  being 
touched  by  a  master  like  that,  I  think  it's  a  very  bad 
thing.   And  maybe  that  is  what  destroyed  a  lot  of  those 
people,  because  they  were  living  on  Lebrun's  talent,  on 
his  personality.   And  if  you  do  that,  you  die.   You  just 
can't  do  that.   You  have  to  find  your  own  way.   I  think 
most  of  those  people  just  didn't  find  their  way. 


ZOLOTOW:   How  do  you  account  for  the  fact  that  there  was 

seemingly  no  connection  between  Lebrun's  group  and  the 

painters  that  followed?   Did  you  reject  Rico's  stuff 

because  you  were  an  abstract  painter? 

ENGEL:   Oh,  no,  no,  no.   Plus  I  could  never  reject  Rico's 

works,  but  I  could  reject  anybody  else's  work  who  tried 

to  emulate  Lebrun.   You  understand  that  that's  the  way 

the  cookie  crumbles?   Rico  commanded  an  enormous  presence. 

When  he  moved  into  sculpture,  I  think  that  Lebrun's  large 

talent  was  in  that,  but  it  came  too  late.   All  the  others 

tried  to  be  Lebrun.   The  minute  you  try  to  be  what  you 

can't,  there's  no  future. 

ZOLOTOW:   How ' d  you  get  this  Lebrun  here,  the  one  on  the 


ENGEL:   I  think  I  bought  it  from  somebody  who  wanted  to 

pick  up  some  extra  dollars. 

ZOLOTOW:   What  year  did  you  buy  it? 

ENGEL:   I  think  I  bought  it  around  '59,  1960.   I  picked 

it  up  from  somebody,  but  I  don't  even  remember  who  owned 

the  painting.   All  I  know,  it  was  just  a  lot  of  people 

around  and  somebody  needed  some  money. 

ZOLOTOW:   Was  this  before  the  [Lebrun]  "Crucifixion  [Series]" 

exhibit  at  the  museum  or  after? 

ENGEL:   No,  I  think  it  was  before;  I  think  it  was  before. 

[tape  recorder  turned  off] 


ZOLOTOW:   That  was  an  interesting  period.   There  was  a  lot 
of  activity  in  painting  then.   Among  the  guys  who  were 
working  in  animation,  how  many  of  them  were  exhibiting 
painters  in  those  years  besides  yourself? 
ENGEL:   There  was  Paul  Julian.   He  was  exhibiting  and 
Bob  Mcintosh  was  exhibiting.   And  I  think  a  little  later, 
of  course,  there  was  Herb  Klynn  who  also  was  exhibiting. 
ZOLOTOW:   Where  did  he  show? 

ENGEL:   I  think  Herb  was  showing  at  Leonard  Grossman 
gallery,  Leonard  Grossman  with,  I  think,  Paul  Julian 
probably  and  Bob  Mcintosh,  because  that  was  the  only,  what 
we  call  avant-garde  gallery  in  Los  Angeles,  Clara  Grossman's 
on  Hollywood  Boulevard. 

ZOLOTOW:   I  remember  Julian  showing  at  the  Felix  Landau 
Gallery  on  La  Cienega.   And  I  remember  sculpture  by-- 
ENGEL:   --by  Paul.   Paul  very  specifically  was  in  the  stable 
of  Felix  Landau,  whereas  Mcintosh  I  think  was  more  or  less 
showing  wherever  he  had  the  opportunity.   Also  I  think  Helen 
Wurdemann  was  an  enormous  influence  at  that  time.   She  had 
a  gallery  on  Wilshire  Boulevard,  where  the  Otis  Art  Insti- 
tute is.   In  fact,  most  of  us,  at  that  time,  showed  the 
first  time  at  Helen  Wurdemann ' s  gallery  on  Wilshire  Boulevard, 
Because  somehow,  somebody  would  recommend  you  for  a  show. 
Like,  let's  say  there  was  a  new  painter,  someone  would 
recommend  you  and  you  would  be  showing  there.   Yes,  that  was. 


I  think,  a  very  important  place  for  Los  Angeles  painters 

to  make  their  first  presence. 

ZOLOTOW :   What  were  you  doing  at  that  time?   What  kind  of 


ENGEL:   At  that  time,  I  was  doing  very  hard-edge,  very 

abstract  [work].   My  early  work  was  hard-edge. 

ZOLOTOW:   You  mean  like  that  one  over  there? 

ENGEL:   Like  this  one  down  here,  and  then  there's  another 

one.   This  is  also  an  early  one.   This  was  characteristic 

of  my  work  of  that  time--very  geometrical,  hard-edge,  almost 

architectural  in  character. 

ZOLOTOW:   What  medium  were  you  working  in? 

ENGEL:   Mostly  watercolor  or  gouache.   But  I  could  use  a 

Windsor-Newton  and  make  it  look  like  gouache.   But  mostly 

gouache . 

ZOLOTOW:   Did  you  ever  work  with  the  stuff  you  worked  with 

every  day,  at  the  s tudio--cells  and--? 

ENGEL:   No,  I  didn't  use  any  cells  on  any  of  my  work.   The 

paint  that  we  used  at  the  studio  was  very  cheap,  cheap, 

cheap  paint.   So  I  would  never  use  that  for  my  work,  because 

that  stuff  was  always  just  throwaway. 

ZOLOTOW:   How  did  you  relate  the  two  things — what  you  did 

at  the  studio  and  what  you  did  at  home? 

ENGEL:   Well,  I  think  the  most  important  thing  was  trying 

to  take  something  into  the  film  that  I  was  doing,  let's 


say,  of  my  own  work.   In  other  words,  the  simplicity,  the 
directness,  the  flat  aspect  of  the  painting,  the  color 
taste,  the  color  choice  was  something  that  I  wanted  to 
project  into  the  work  at  the  studio.   That  was,  of  course, 
a  natural  direction,  especially  if  you  didn't  like  anything 
that  you  saw  around  you. 

ZOLOTOW :   Did  it  ever  work  the  other,  way  around?   Did  you 
ever  want  to  take  some  of  the  things  that  were  happening  in 
film  and  move  it  into  painting? 

ENGEL:   No.   The  most  elementary  thing  being  motion,  I 
wanted  to  use  my  artwork  in  film.   I  was  always  interested 
in  motion,  and  that  aspect  of  motion  didn't  come  to  me 
until  a  little  later,  of  putting  just  that  onto  film,  what 
actually  Fischinger  was  doing  earlier.   So  the  motion 
aspect  of  it  is  a  big  factor. 

ZOLOTOW:   Well,  the  painters  and  the  futurists  in  the 
twenties  were  concerned  with  motion.   Did  you  ever  get 
into  that  kind  of  representation  of  motion  on  a  canvas? 
ENGEL:   No,  no  way.   No  way.   No,  they  didn't  interest  me, 
because  I  was  much  more  interested  in  almost  architectural 
image  on  the  canvas.   In  other  words,  it  was  almost  like  the 
idea  of  using  the  canvas  just  as  a  flat  surface,  which  later 
developed  into  what  [Ellsworth]  Kelly  was  doing,  and  Ad 
Reinhardt.   It  developed  into  that  world,  you  see.   But 
the  movement,  for  me,  took  care  of  movement  for  my  films. 


This  is  very  interesting.   I  threw  away  or  lost  the  early 
ones.   I  destroyed  the  films  until  I  was  satisfied  with 
my  work,  until  about  ten,  twelve  years  ago,  in  1961,  '62, 
when  I  began  to  consider  keeping  my  pure  abstract  films 
and  to  put  motion  onto  film.   But  then  I  just  began  using 
pure  shapes. 

ZOLOTOW:  Could  I  see  some  of  the  abstract  things  you  were 
doing  during  that  period?  What's  that  black  and  white  one 
over  there,  Jules,  those  volumes? 

ENGEL:   Well,  these  may  be  volumes  to  you,  but  in  animation 
these  would  be  seconds  of  film.   This  was  the  beginning, 
you  see,  of  moving  into  that  world.   This  was  the  first 
one.   And  then  there  was  another  one,  which  was  also  a 
first  one  of  that  terrain.   And  this-- 

ZOLOTOW:  How  did  you  work  with  these  painted  surfaces,  to 

ENGEL:   Well,  this  was  wood  first.   I  cut  it  and  glued 
onto  the  background  and  then  painted  over. 
ZOLOTOW:   Did  you  have  film  material  like  this? 
ENGEL:   No,  the  film  came  a  little  later,  but  this  was  the 
first--this  was  the  beginning  of  this  kind  of  a--  Because 
you  see,  this  is  just  pure  movement.   Here  is  where,  for  me, 
movement  was  beginning  to  be  very  much  part  of  my  work.   Not 
like  the  futurists,  who  went  out  and  wanted  to  put  a  loco- 
motive or  a  streetcar  or  a  running  horse  and  stuff  like  that. 


See,  again,  I  go  back  to  the  straight  line  and  put  the 
straight  line  into  motion.   For  me,  the  straight  line 
always  means  something  very,  very  intriguing.   I  mean, 
the  vertical  line  was  very  intriguing. 

ZOLOTOW:   You  know,  the  paper  that  describes  you  for  this 
series  calls  you  a  Bauhaus  painter,  and  this  is  about  the 
only  thing  I've  seen  around  that  makes  me  think  back  to 
the  Bauhaus  and  [Laszlo]  Moholy [-Nagy] .   Do  you  consider 
yourself  Bauhaus  influenced? 

ENGEL:   Well,  let's  say  I  admire  the  Bauhaus  very  much, 
but  I  don't--  Well,  I  can't  help  it  if  people  see  a  con- 
tinuity between  my  work  and  Bauhaus.   I  mean,  I  admire 
them  enough  that  I  will  not  be  unhappy  about  that,  [laughter; 
ZOLOTOW:   Maybe  it's  because  you're  Hungarian. 
ENGEL:   Maybe  because  I'm  a  Hungarian  and  because  Moholy- 
Nagy  is  a  Hungarian  and  [Gyorgy]  Kepes  was  Hungarian.   The 
whole  group  of  these  characters  who  were  working  in  that 
terrain.   But  I  think  this  is  just  the  way  I  am  put  together. 
It's  my  chemistry,  and  it  is  not  a  question  of  Bauhaus, 
you  know,  because  I  could  just  forget  the  damn  thing  and 
do  something  else.   But  I  still  am  wedded  to  this  character 
of  very  structured  and  organized  imagery  on  a  canvas.   This 
intrigues  me.   And  yet  Martha  Graham  intrigues  me,  and 
Alvin  Alley  intrigues  me,  and  Twyla  Tharp  intrigues  me. 
That's  an  enormous  contradiction  to  your  Bauhaus  idea  of  me. 


of  what  they  do  and  how  they  move  on  stage,  isn't  it? 

ZOLOTOW:   Did  you  ever  draw  them  as  people? 

ENGEL:   No,  I  have  absolutely  never  had  any  desire  ever 

to  draw  people.   Never. 

ZOLOTOW:   Have  you  ever  photographed  people? 

ENGEL:   No,  I  don't  even  like  to  photograph  people.   I 

feel  I'm  intruding  on  their  privacy,  and  I  think  they  have 

every  right  to  resent  being  photographed. 

ZOLOTOW:   Have  you  ever  photgraphed  objects? 

ENGEL:   Objects,  yes.   Oh,  yes.   Chairs  all  over  the  place. 

Buildings,  s tairways--anything  and  everything.   See,  for  me, 

a  person  comes  to  life  on  the  stage  either  in  the  theater 

or  as  a  dance  on  stage. 

ZOLOTOW:   Did  you  ever  do  sets  for  the  theater? 

ENGEL:   Oh,  sets  I've  done.   I  did  sets  in  Paris.   I  did 

a  very  important  play,  LesJouex.   I  designed  a  set  for 

Les  Jouex,  a  very  contemporary  play.   And  also  other 

things . 

ZOLOTOW:   Let's  move  on,  along  the  work  there,  and  see  what 

other  periods  you  have  there.   This  kind  of  complicated 

spatial  diagram  is  one.   What's  happening  back  there? 

ENGEL:   These  paintings  are  of  more  recent  vintage. 

ZOLOTOW:   Is  that  a  serigraph? 

ENGEL:   That's  a  serigraph,  yes.   But  here  again  I'm 

working  with  these  particular  shapes  that  I'm  always 


intrigued  with.   In  fact,  I  put  this  into  animation,  where 
it  turned  out  to  be  a  little  bit  too  much  work,  and  too 
complicated.   After  about  eighteen  or  twenty-four  drawings, 
I  think  I  gave  it  up,  and  then  worked  them  into  a  single 

ZOLOTOW:   When  we  were  talking  about  Disney,  we  were  talking 
about  his  preoccupations  with  volumes  and  deep  space.   In  a 
way,  you're  going  back  to  representing  deep  space,  except 
that  you've  got  a  lot  of  perspective  at  work. 
ENGEL:   But  this  is  totally  different;  the  shapes  here  are 
always  in  limbo  and  in  space.   In  other  words,  I  don't  put 
perspective  lines  that  would  tell  you  that  there  is  a  front 
and  there  is  a  back,  see.   The  only  thing  that  would  give 
you  that  feeling,  maybe,  is  because  the  shape  in  the  fore- 
ground is  a  little  larger  and  the  other  shape  is  a  little 
smaller,  so  it  gives  you  a  feeling  of  depth.   But  that 
idea  of  putting  perspective  lines  that  would  take  you  back 
and  stop,  I  generally  don't  work  with  that.   It  doesn't 
exist  in  any  of  the  work  I  do  or  ever  did.   In  other  words, 
this  whole  terrain  for  me  is  still  an  area  where  you  do 
nothing  but  excavate  and  come  out  and  try  to  find  new 

ZOLOTOW:  You  know,  it  strikes  me  that  most  of  your  work 
is  very  small  in  scale,  just  about  the  same  as  animation 
cell  or  background.   Do  you  ever  do  bigger  things? 


ENGEL:   Of  course.   They  are  architectural,  but  these  are 
mock-ups  of  the  real  things. 

ZOLOTOW:   Where  do  you  think  paintings  belong? 
ENGEL:   Painting  belongs  in  a  home,  in  apartments,  in 
museums.   It  belongs  in  the  kitchen;  it  belongs  to  whenever 
and  wherever  somebody's  in  love  with  the  painting  and  wants 
to  live  with  it. 

ZOLOTOW:   Are  you  one  of  the  film  people  that  thinks  that 
film  and  video's  going  to  replace  painting? 

ENGEL:   No  way.   It's  impossible.   I  think  film  is  important, 
I  think  video  is  important.   But  you  can't  live  with  film 
twenty-four  hours  a  day  because  it  belongs  in  a  can,  and 
you  need  a  projector,  you  need  a  screen,  you  need  all  kinds 
of  gadgets.   But  beside  that,  it's  another  world.   It's 
another  medium.   It's  a  medium  where  you  deal  with  light. 
It's  a  medium  that  also  is  a  quickie.   What  I  mean  is,  when 
you  see  a  film--I  have  a  very  difficult  time  seeing  a  film 
twice.   The  second  time  they  fall  apart  for  me.   And  I  love 
films.   I  mean,  I've  been  in  that  world  all  my  life.   But 
the  third  time  they  die  on  me.   Whereas  painting,  there's 
some  magic  about  a  painting.   You  can  look  at  the  damn 
thing  and  look  at  the  damn  thing,  and  you  discover  new 
avenues  in  that.   But  film — the  greatest  films  that  I've 
seen--oh,  let's  forget  the  word  great,  because  that  doesn't 
exist--but  let's  say  the  best  of  the  very  good  films  that 


I  have  seen,  the  third  time,  they  fall  apart.  In  other 
words,  because  it's  still  a  bastard  medium.  Which  is 
good.  Which  is  good.  It  hadn't  found  itself  yet;  it's 
developing.  And  this  is  healthy.  Let's  face  it,  we're 
talking  about  an  art  that's  seventy  years  old.  It's  not 
like  the  world  of  painting,  where  you  have  five  hundred 
years,  great  artists.  I  mean,  we  have  seventy  years  of 
film  making  and-- 

ZOLOTOW:   Well,  some  people  contend  that  painting  is  on 
its  way  down,  and  film  is  on  its  way  up.   How  do  you 
feel  about  that? 

ENGEL : :   Oh,  I  hope  film  is  on  the  way  up.   After  seventy 
years,  it  has  no  other  place  but  going  up.   In  other  words, 
we  don't  have  a  Titian  or  a  Rubens,  the  Rembrandts  and  El 
Grecos  and  the  Goyas,  and  we  certainly  have  no  Picassos, 
Braques,  and  Matisses.   And  Jackson  Pollock.   I  mean,  that's 
a  point  of  view.   So  after  seventy  years,  you  have  no  choice 
but  going  up.   But  from  my  point  of  view,  I  think  a  lot 
of  film  making  is  going  down,  because  they're  taking  on  the 
enormous  presence  of  an  illustrator.   All  of  a  sudden,  most 
of  the  films  look  like  they  came  out  of  the  hand  of  an  illus- 
trator.  The  mediums  of  the  film  are  not  being  used  to 
capacity,  let  alone  beyond  this.   They're  using  the  camera 
to  illustrate  an  illustrator's  script.   They  illustrate. 
They  are  illustrations.   They  don't  even  use  several  images 


in  order  to  design  a  film.   What  they  do,  now,  they  take 

a  very  good  picture,  an  enormously  beautiful  picture,  and 

then  they  keep  going  into  it,  let's  say  for  a  close-up. 

So  they  compose  things  inside  this  piece  of  illustration, 

instead  of  using  first  shot,  second  shot,  and  a  third  shot, 

and  put  the  three  together  in  such  a  way  that  it  becomes  a 

composition  that  you  can  only  get  through  films.   We're  not 

doing  that.   We're  beginning  to  illustrate  again.   But  then, 

what  the  hell,  within  seventy  years-- 

ZOLOTOW:   Are  there  economic  reasons? 

ENGEL:   Oh,  no,  no.   Talent,  talent.   That  is  nothing  to  do 

with  economics. 

ZOLOTOW:   Well,  they  tell  me  that  one  reason  that — 

ENGEL:   When  you  spend  $11  million  on  a  film,  there's  no 

problem  of  economics.   When  you  spend  4  million,  there's 

no  problem  of  economics.   What  the  hell,  you  can  take  a  piece 

of  20x30  inch  canvas,  and  you  can  put  a  masterpiece  down. 

So  it's  not  a  question  of  economics.   It's  a  question  of 

talent,  of  thinking. 

ZOLOTOW:   How  does  sculpture  relate  to  your  painting  and 

film?   When  did  you  get  into  sculpture? 

ENGEL:   I  got  into  sculpture  around  '61.   I  went  to  Europe, 

and  I  was  very  impressed  with  Rome  and  Florence  and  Venice-- 

that  whole  environment.   [tape  recorder  turned  off] 

ZOLOTOW:   So  sculpture  really  turned  you  on  in  Europe, 


and  of  course  you  made  your  things  here. 

ENGEL:   Yes,  but  I  first  really  saw  things  there,  and  what 
turned  me  on  really  was  the  structures.   I  liked  their 
buildings.   I  liked  the  free  flow  of  a  lot  of  the  designs 
on  some  of  the  buildings,  and,  of  course,  the  great  masters, 
you  know.   But  I  still  had  no  desire  to  do  anything  with  the 
figure,  because,  again,  I  went  back  into  the  very  architec- 
tural kind  of  imagery.   And  eventually,  like,  you  see  this 
centerpiece  on  a  table,  this  is  what  happened--!  began  to 
realize  that  there  was  no  sculpture  to  me  that's  related  to 
the  American  image.   See  that  centerpiece?   This  is  the 
American  image--the  skyscraper.   And  that's  the  beginning  of 
my  realization  that  there's  nothing  really  in  this  country 
that  relates  truly  to  the  American  image.   And  what  the 
American  image  is  to  me,  is  really  the  skyscraper. 

Also  what  turned  me  on  was  that  some  time  ago,  about  that 
time,  I  landed  in  Washington,  D.C.,  and  I  saw  all  this — I  saw 
Lincoln  in  a  Roman  environment.   I  saw  the  [Washington]  obelisk, 
which  is  an  Egyptian  thing.   I  saw  all  Roman  and  Greek  and  Egyp- 
tian shapes  in  Washington,  D.C.,  surrounding  the  American  giants, 
you  know.   And  I  said,  "Wait  a  minute.   There's  something  wrong 
here.   Why  can't  we  have  some  kind  of  a  shape,  form,  or  sculp- 
ture, something  that  relates  to  this  country?"   And  that  was 
also  one  reason  that  I  started  to  do  this  kind  of  shape,  which 
to  me  is  the  American  image — nothing  Roman,  nothing  Greek, 


nothing  Egyptian,  nothing  but  just  American  New  York. 
ZOLOTOW:   Well,  that  was  what  was  so  wonderful  about 
animation,  the  fact  that  it  really  was  a  native  art.   And 
I  remember  that  explosion  that  occurred  when  Gerald  McBoing 
Boing  hit  the  theaters,  and  for  the  first  time,  animation 
came  from  a  source  outside  Disney.   How  did  that  happen? 
How  did  UPA  grow  out  of  Disney? 

ENGEL:   First  of  all,  animation  is  not  just  a  native  art. 
It  had  a  background  other  than  America.   What  happened  [was 
that]  some  of  us--  I  worked  at  Disney,  Hubley  worked  at 
Disney,  and  Bill  Hurtz  worked  at  Disney.   Let's  say  that 
we  had  other  ideas.   We  had  other  concepts  of  what  an 
animated  film  should  look  like.   We  were  aware,  very  aware, 
that  at  Disney  everybody  was  pushing  the  film  toward  what 
we  call  illustration.   I  mean,  illustration  that  would  work 
better  in  a  magazine.   Now,  of  course,  there  is  a  place  for 
all  that  sort  of  thing,  and  there  are  people  who  love  that. 
But  we  had  other  points  of  view,  because  we  were  already 
very  much  involved  with  contemporary  art.   You  know,  we  were 
aware  of  Matisse.   We  were  aware  of  Paul  Klee  and  Kandinsky. 
Dufy  was,  I  think,  very  important  for  us.   Leger  was  very 
important  for  us. 

ZOLOTOW:   The  divorced  line  was  a  big  thing  in  animation. 
ENGEL:   Also  we  wanted  the  character  flat,  and  let's  not 
divorce  the  character  from  the  background.   What  they  did 


over  at  Disney  was  that  they  put  the  character  in  front 
of  the  background.   And  that  is  even  wrong  in  a  world  of 
theater.   When  a  set  designer  designs  with  an  idea  that 
he's  going  to  put  a  design  behind  a  character,  he's  already 
off  on  the  wrong  foot.   The  important  thing  for  a  design, 
even  in  the  theater,  is  to  design  so  the  character  fits 
into  the  environment.   In  as  much  as  we  decided  to  work  on 
a  flat  surface  with  the  character  flat,  we  wanted  to  push 
the  two  things  together,  and  flatten  out  the  background, 
flatten  out  the  character,  and  now  you're  on  a  terrain,  on 
a  very  honest,  aesthetic  point  of  view.   Because  you're 
not  trying  to  cheat.   You're  not  trying  to  make  a  three- 
dimensional  background  and  put  a  two-dimensional  character 
in  it. 

That  was  one  of  the  point  of  views  at  UPA  that  we 
were  very  aware  of.   We  wanted  to  have  that  happen  and  we 
did.   It  really  happened  and  happened  big  and  happened 
well  in  Gerald  McBoing  Boing.   I  have  some  materials  here. 
Here  is  Gerald  McBoing  Boing  from  one  scene.   Then  here's 
another  Gerald  McBoing  Boing.   Again,  if  you  notice, 
something  very  interesting  here.   For  instance,  you  don't 
see  any  lines.   You  don't  see  any  line  that  would  tell  you 
where  the  floor  stops  and  the  walls  start,  and  where  the 
ceiling  starts.   In  other  words,  the  environment  is  estab- 
lished through  the  shapes  that  you  were  putting  into  the 


scene.   If  you  had  a  shape  close  and  that  was  large,  that 
gave  you  the  point  of  view  that  this  is  the  foreground. 
And  then  back  here,  when  a  shape  was  smaller,  that  estab- 
lished the  position  of  distance  and  time. 

But  this  point  of  view  was  a  good  one,  and  we  knew  we 
were  doing  something  right.   We  wanted  to  get  away  from 
what  we  called  just  pure  Sunday  calendar  illustration, 
that  so  much  of  the  Disney  background  was  about;  and  for 
us,  it  constantly  fought  a  flat  character.   So  this  was 
the  beginning  of  our  thinking,  of  having  a  flat  character 
working  in  a  background  where  he  would  either  do  away  with 
a  horizon  line  where  you  would  say,  "This  is  the  ground, 
and  this  is  the  sky."   All  that  was  not  important  in  the 
world  of  painting,  because  our  approach  was  more  of  a 
painterly  approach,  or  an  artist's  approach,  who  was  aware 
of  the  flat  surface  and  knew  what  the  hell  that  is  all 

ZOLOTOW:   Do  you  think  it's  comparable  to  what  happened 
in  cubism,  when  the  picture  place  got  flattened  out  after 
all  those  years  of  deep  space? 

ENGEL:   Well,  for  me,  I'm  a  kind  of  primitive  in  thought; 
I'm  not  what  you  call  an  intellectual.   And  I  think  those 
things  have  to  happen.   I  think  there  is  no  choice.   I 
think  an  artist,  a  serious  person,  will  come  upon  things. 
I  think  Picasso  came  upon  things,  because  everything  else 


was  there.   And  he  said,  "I'm  going  to  do  something  with 

all  that,  and  I  have  a  new  point  of  view."   Then  he  went 

about  and  brought  this  thing  into  a  position.   But  also, 

I  think  he  did  something  very  interesting,  the  cubist 

approach,  that  very  much  exists  in  film,  or  in  a  film 

world.   Because  when  you  have  a  close-up  and  you  have  a 

slow  cross-dissolve  to  a  profile  and  you  have  a  slow 

cross-dissolve  to  another  point  of  view,  you  now  have 

three  separate  aspects  of  the  image,  looking  at  it  from 

a  different  position.   And  they  are  all  on  the  screen  at 

the  same  time.   I  think  in  a  strange  way  cubism  is  very 

much  in  a  film  world,  and  I  think  a  lot  of  filmmakers  are 

not  even  aware  that  this  thing  really  is  on  the  screen, 

which  is  pure  cubism,  where  you  show  a  different  aspect  of 

the  image,  at  the  same  time,  on  a  screen. 

ZOLOTOW:   What  other  influences  of  French  painting  can 

you  see  on  film?   How  about  that  thing  you  mentioned,  Dufy 

and  the  divorced  line? 

ENGEL:   Dufy  was  very,  very,  very  influential,  and  I  think 

I  have  something  here  where  you  can  see  the  divorced  line. 

Now  of  course,  this  is  very,  very — 

ZOLOTOW:   That's  not  so  divorced.   [laughter] 

ENGEL:   Well,  it  is  divorced. 

ZOLOTOW:   That's  tightened  up. 

ENGEL:   No,  no,  it's  enormously  divorced  when  you  see  the 


shape  and  where  the  black  line  is  working.   The  divorced 
line  here  is  very  obvious.   But  it's  very  articulate;  it's 
very  clean;  it's  very  neat.   You  notice  we  couldn't  quite 
work  Dufy  in  the  film,  because  you're  still  dealing  with 
a  piece  of  merchandise  that  will  be  used  by  millions  of 

But  it  was  very  interesting,  because  even  at  [the] 
studio  at  UPA,  the  animators  at  first  were  very  much  against 
this  idea  of  a  divorced  line  from  a  shape.   In  fact,  they 
made  fun  of  it.   They  were  knocking  it,  and  they  were 
criticizing  it  quietly.   But  once  it  got  out  there  and 
people  accepted  it  and  we  were  applauded,  then  they  shut 
up,  and  the  criticism  then  died  down.   But  at  first,  they 
were  really  not  with  it,  because  they  said,  "What  the  hell 
is  the  matter  with  this?   There's  something  wrong.   The 
line  is  missing  at  the  edge  of  the  shape." 
ZOLOTOW:   Where ' d  the  color  come  from  in  those  days? 
ENGEL:   Well,  I  would  think  the  first  big  influence  at  UPA 
was  from  Herb  Klynn  and  myself.   Herb  was  in  charge  of  that 
aspect  of  it,  let's  say,  background  color.   And  I  was  working 
with  Herb,  and  it  came  from  me  also.   Then  Herbie  was  moved 
into  a  managerial  job,  and  the  whole  thing  was  on  my  shoulder 
So  color  was  something  that  was  in  my  bag,  and  I  then  had  all 
the  say-so,  the  total  say-so,  all  the  right  to  do  as  I  damn 
well  pleased.   And  then  I  really  began  to  push  colo:  into 


this  medium  that  it  never  really  had  had  before. 
ZOLOTOW:   You  must  have  been  looking  at  paintings  during 
that  period.   Which  paintings  do  you  think  influenced  your 
use  of  color? 

ENGEL:   Use  of  color?   Well,  several,  but  I  think  Matisse 
was  very  important.   I  think  Paul  Klee  was  very  important. 
Leger  was  very  important,  because  he's  so  clear  and  clean. 
He  uses  the  strong  primaries,  but  always  uses  them  very 
elegantly.   But  of  course  I  must  also  mention  Braque,  and 
I  must  also  mention  Picasso.   And  I  think  that  would  take 
care  of  it. 

ZOLOTOW:   All  Europe.   No  one  on  the  American  scene  that 
you  were  interested  in? 

ENGEL:   Oh,  the  only  American  scene  painter  that  I  was 
interested  in  for  color  was  Albers ,  Josef  Albers--and 
Hans  Hofmann.   Hans  Hofmann  and  Albers  were  the  two  that 
I  would  look  to.   The  other  person  who  also  interested  me 
very,  very  much,  and  I  tried  to  get  some  of  that  stuff  into 
some  of  the  UPA  films,  was  Stuart  Davis.   But  if  you're 
talking  about  mood,  then  it's  something  else.   [Charles] 
Burchfield  and  [Edward]  Hopper--I  was  very,  very  keen  on 
them.   But  Albers  and  Hans  Hofmann,  the  use  of  the  wild 
colors  [by]  Hans  Hofmann,  for  me  that  was  very  beautiful. 
And  Stuart  Davis,  for  me,  that  was  very,  very  important  on 
the  American  scene. 


ZOLOTOW:   Yes,  I  see  the  connection. 

ENGEL:   But,  as  I  say,  we  just  opened  a  whole  new  world 
then  at  UPA.   The  way  I  used  color  there,  which  you  and  I 
could  never  do  at  Disney.   Because  there,  color  was  used 
simply  as  an  illustration,  and  not  as  color  which  has 
something  to  do  with  the  dramatics.   Again,  you  see,  at 
Disney,  they  put  the  color  behind  the  character  instead 
of  putting  the  character  into  the  color. 

ZOLOTOW:   Well,  didn't  you  have  problems  putting  colors  on 
cells,  though?   Doesn't  color  fall  off? 

ENGEL:   No,  that's  no  problem,  because  you  put  it  on  the 
cell,  at  that  time,  whatever  paint  was  used,  and  it  was 
sharp.   So  it  didn't  matter  what  the  hell  happened  after 
that.   Today  with  acrylic  and  stuff,  you  can  put  paint  on 
a  cell,  and  it  will  stay  on  it  for  the  next  fifty,  hundred 
years.   You  can  step  on  it,  you  can  walk  on  it,  you  can 
bend  it,  you  know.   But  it  didn't  matter  then.   It  just  had 
to  last  from  your  desk  to  the  camera.   Once  it  was  shot,  it 
would  go  into  the  garbage  anyway. 

ZOLOTOW:   Wasn't  there  a  difference  in  the  pigments  between 
what  the  painters  were  using,  the  permanent  pigments,  and 
the  kind  of  raw  color  that  you  were  getting  out  of  cans? 
ENGEL:   No,  because  the  subtlety  was  already  there,  because 
the  question  of  what  color  you  put  in  next  to  another  color, 
you  know--  But  if  I  wanted  to  use  raw  vermilion,  which  was 


in  the  primaries,  you  know,  if  that  was  the  mood  of  the 
film,  I  used  that.   But  otherwise,  no,  because  it's  still 
what  you  put  next  to  another  color  that  makes  the  damn 
thing  work,  makes  it  right  or  makes  it  wrong. 
ZOLOTOW:   Was  Magoo  the  big  commercial  success  of  UPA? 
ENGEL:   Magoo  kept  UPA  alive.   Magoo  was  the  commercial 
success,  and  kept  us  alive,  and  the  other  stuff  that  we 
did,  like  the  Gerald  McBoing  Boing,  The  Jaywalker,  Frankie 
and  Johnny,  The  Unicorn  in  the  Garden,  those  were  the 
offbeats.   We  had  that  contract  with  Columbia  [Pictures 
Corporation]  and  Columbia  had  no  choice.   They  had  to  take 
what  we  were  delivering.   But  if  Columbia  ever  had  an  idea 
of  what  they  were  going  to  get  after  the  Magoo,  we  would 
never  have  had  the  opportunity  to  do  those  films,  because 

they  hated  every  film  that  we  made  that  was  not  Magoo . 

ZOLOTOW:   The  Unicorn  in  the  Garden--that  animated  the 

Thurber  drawings,  didn't  it? 

ENGEL:   Yes,  and  we  kept  very  strictly  to  the  Thurber. 

ZOLOTOW:   Was  that  the  first  time  a  thing  like  that  had 

been  done? 

ENGEL:   Yes,  yes.   We  did  Thurber ' s  Unicorn  in  the  Garden, 

and  we  did  Madeline,  which  was  [Ludwig]  Bemelmans ' s 

Madeline .   And  the  idea  when  we  used  those  people  was  to 

give  it  the  lines  that  they  used  in  their  own  drawings. 

Why  destroy  their  drawing  style?   The  whole  idea  was  to 


bring  those  drawings  alive.  And  they  were  right,  because 
Thurber  worked  with  the  lines,  so  again,  you  were  working 
with  a  flat  design  on  a  flat  background. 

ZOLOTOW:   I  think  that  really  broke  open  the  whole  industry. 
ENGEL:   Also,  it  broke  open  from  a  point  of  view  of  anima- 
tion, you  see,  because  often  people  refer  to  that  kind  of 
animation  as  limited  animation.   They  always  downgrade  it, 
which  I  think  is  very  stupid  because  there's  no  such  a  thing 
as  limited  animation-- there ' s  such  a  thing  as  limited  talent, 
but  not  limited  animation.   They  don't  understand  that  the 
best  performance  that  you  can  get  from  that  medium  should  be 
a  kind  of  limited  gestures.   Because  if  the  animator  really 
looks  for  performance  to  the  stage,  the  gestures  there  are 
truly  limited.   There  isn't  a  gesture  on  the  stage  that  is 
not  truly  necessary.   In  other  words,  very  seldom  do  you 
find  a  really  great  stage  actor  where  he  would  use  his  hands 
or  his  head  or  any  portion  of  his  body,  where  he  would  make 
as  much  movement  as  the  best  animator  made  for  Walt  Disney. 
The  animator  at  Walt  Disney,  or  most  of  the  animators,  they 
are  afraid  to  stop  gesturing,  because  they  are  afraid  that 
the  damn  character  falls  apart,  because  all  of  a  "sudden  he 
becomes  flat.   By  having  the  flat  character  and  designing 
flat,  like  we  did  at  UPA,  we  didn't  have  to  worry  about  that, 
and  still  our  gestures,  our  "acting  technique,"  was  the 
closest  to  what  a  great  actor  on  the  stage  would  be  doing. 


ZOLOTOW:   Yes,  most  of  the  ges tures--like  walks — were  sort 

of  parallel  to  the  picture  plane  at  UPA,  whereas  in  Disney — 

ENGEL:   Well,  he  was  moving  all  over.   He  was  moving  his 

body,  and  the  more  he  moved,  the  better  they  felt  that  they 

had  accomplished  something.   Whereas  our  feeling  was  that 

all  that  was  very  unnecessary.   They  thought  they  were  doing 

something  that  was  real  lifelike;  when  in  reality  they  were 

not  lifelike.   They  were  just  something  else. 

ZOLOTOW:   It  was  a  different  kind  of  symbol. 

ENGEL:   It  was  something  else.   But  they  were  not  as  aware 

at  Disney  of  the  art  of  acting,  I  think,  as  we  were  at  UPA. 

ZOLOTOW:   Who  was  the  great  animator  at  UPA? 

ENGEL:   The  great  animator  at  UPA,  whom  I  also  think  was 

the  greatest  in  the  business,  is  Robert  Cannon.   He  was 

the  one-- 

ZOLOTOW:   They  used  to  call  him  Bo  Cannon. 

ENGEL:   Bobo  Cannon,  Bobo .   He  was  the  one  who  really  added 

that  refinement  to  enact  a  performance  of  this  gesture. 

Because  there  is  nothing  more  minimal.   You  watch  Laurence 

Olivier  on  stage,  and  it's  absolutely  magic.   The  gestures 

are  minimal.   And  this  is  what  Bobo  Cannon  was  able  to  do 

on  film.   Sometimes  not  even  with  that  kind  of  thinking,  but 

he  had  that  instinct,  that  this  was  right. 

ZOLOTOW:   What  was  his  background? 

ENGEL:   Just  a  person  who  grew  up  in  a  medium,  who  wanted  to 


be  an  animator.   I  think,  if  you  go  back,  he  was  a  tumbler. 
So  that  means  he  had  a  beautiful  sense  of  timing,  which  was 
again  innate  and  was  part  of  his  body.   He  was  very  keen  on 
movement  and  very  keen  on  aspects  of  comedy,  but  again,  in 
a  very  elegant  sense,  more  like  Jacques  Tati.   Tati  always 
was  mimicking  people.   I  had  lunch  with  him  once,  and  he 
was  mimicking  people.   He  was  mimicking  at  you  with  a  fork 
or  a  knife  that  he  had  in  his  hand,  you  know,  even  in  the 
way  he  did  movements.   Bobo  Cannon  was  in  the  same  thing. 
ZOLOTOW:   Where ' d  he  learn  how  to  draw? 

ENGEL:   Bobo?   You  don't  learn  it;  you  just  sit  at  the  desk 
eight,  ten  hours  a  day.   None  of  those  guys  ever  learned  to 
draw,  except  that  they  decided  to  walk  into  the  damn  studio, 
and  they  sat  there  eight,  ten  hours  a  day  and  knew  that's 
for  them. 

ZOLOTOW:   Did  he  have  any  exposure  to  classical  art  education? 
ENGEL:   No,  none,  none. 

ZOLOTOW:   Was  he  interested  in  painting  at  all? 
ENGEL:   None.   But  I  must  say  about  Bobo  that  [although]  he 
had  none  of  that,  he  never  fought  it;  he  welcomed  and 
respected  it.   This  is  why  he  was  able  to  work  with  me  and 
with  Herb  Klynn.   He  had  a  simpatico.   He  was  sort  of  wide 
open  for  that,  and  it  was  beautiful.   Whereas  so  many  of 
these  people,  they  either  know  it  all,  or  they're  against  and 
afraid  of  it.   Bobo,  for  example — this  is  a  very  strange 


texture  that  this  man  was  wide  open  for  these  recommenda- 
tions, for  these  suggestions,  and  he  asked  you.   And  yet  he 
had  none  of  that  background. 


MAY  19,  1976 

ZOLOTOW:   We  are  at  Cal  Arts,  and  what  we  really  want  to 
do,  Jules,  is  find  out  what  you  are  doing  now. 
ENGEL:   What  I  am  doing  now,  you  want  to  know?   [laughter] 
I  am  now  heading  the  California  Institute  of  the  Arts  film 
graphics-experimentational  film  department  and  creating  new 
talents  for  the  world  of  films. 

ZOLOTOW:   Is  that  an  experimentational  film  department? 
ENGEL:   It's  both.   It's  called  "film  graphics  dash  experi- 
mentational," and  then  animation,  because  this  is  all  those 
levels.   In  other  words,  some  of  the  works  that  come  out  of 
here  are  purely  of  an  experimental  character,  whereas  some 
other  stuff,  let's  say,  is  more  conventional  in  character. 
And  then,  too,  you  have  the  other  type  of  film,  which  people 
relate  as  film  graphics,  which  would  be,  let's  say,  just  the 
highly  designed  and  very  articulated  forms  and  shapes  that 
people  accept  as  film  graphics.   Still  others  in  the  abstract 
experimental  vein  don't  have  that  quality,  because  it's, 
let's  say,  more  liquid,  more  organic,  more  sensuous.   It's 
purely  experimentational,  you  know. 

ZOLOTOW:   What  relation  does  this  have  to  the  traditional 
animation  skills  which  are  taught  here? 

ENGEL:   Well,  what  I  am  doing  here,  I'm  interested  really 
in  the  talent  that  I  would  say  has  more  of  the  character  of 


the  poet,  the  fellow  who  is  really  much  more  inventive,  or 
the  fellow  who  wants  to  go  into  the  scene  of  film  as  an 
extension,  let's  say,  of  a  painter  who  now  wants  to  work  in 
motion  and  not  a  question  of  aesthetic  painting.   So  the  conven- 
tional animation  here  is  another  department.   And  although 
I  have  people  who  work  with  characters,  their  approach  to 
the  character  animation  is  where  you  invent  the  aspect  of 
how  the  character  moves.   To  be  more  specific,  it's  movement, 
but  not  from  observation.   It's  movement  from  a  point  of 
view  where  you  invent,  where  you  create,  where  you  make  the 
movement  function  because  you're  dealing  with  a  drawing, 
and  not  [because  you]  try  to  copy  or  imitate.   That  is  the 
only  thing  that  relates  to  conventional  animation  in  my 

ZOLOTOW:   Are  you  getting  young  people  out  of  the  painting 
department  to  work  here? 

ENGEL:   I  have  some  people  who  come  from  the  painting 
department  in  the  school.   But  then  I  have  people  who  come 
here  from  other  schools,  specifically  because  they  want  to 
work  in  experimenta tional  filmmaking.   These  are  the  people 
who  are  art  students,  and  they  have  a  B.F.A.  or  whatever  from 
other  places.   They  come  here,  because  they  feel  that  here 
they  have  this  total  freedom  of  really  working  the  medium 
and  not  [being]  locked  into  any  kind  of  ideologies  or  school 
structures . 


ZOLOTOW:   Do  you  regard  this  as  kind  of  an  extension  of 

ENGEL:   Yes,  it  can  be.   I  think  of  some  of  the  people, 
like  Dennis  Pies,  who's  been  here,  as  just  that.   He  was 
a  painter--he ' s  still  a  painter--he ' s  an  excellent  print- 
maker,  and  he  came  here  because  he  wanted  to  get  involved 
with  film,  but  with  his  world  of  painting.   And  he's  done 
some  beautiful  work.   Barbara  Stutting  has  done  a  few 
abstract  f ilms--again,  a  painter.   Jane  Kirkwood  has  done 
a  film  like  that.   In  fact,  the  best  talents  that  I  have 
are  really  the  true  artist,  who  looks  to  the  film  as  an 
extension  of  the  world  of  art.   I  make  a  difference  between 
the  talent  that  I  would  call  studio-oriented  (that's  the 
conventional  type)  and  then  the  other  who  says,  "I  don't 
want  to  work  at  the  studio.   I  want  to  produce  my  own 
world.   I  want  to  make  new  horizons."   So  that's  the  other 
world.   That's  the  large  talent. 

ZOLOTOW:   You  know,  you  have  Bruce  Nauman  teaching  here. 
How  do  your  students  and  your  work  relate  to  what's  going 
on  now  with  video  art  and  what's  been  called  post-object  art? 
ENGEL:   Well,  we  have  video  in  the  school,  of  course.   So, 
if  a  person  in  here  wants  to  jump  around  and  try  something 
new,  have  fun,  fall  in  love  with  the  medium,  they  see  what 
happens.   And,  if  a  Bruce  Nauman  is  here,  or  another  artist 
of  that  character,  what  happens  is  that  my  students  will  go 


over  there.   If  he  had  any  kind  of  a  rap  session,  as  they 
do,  or  they  show  their  slides,  I  encourage  my  talent  to 
definitely  go  over  there  and  listen  to  the  man.   Just  look 
and  listen.   And  what  you  like  you  take  in,  and  what  you 
don't  like  you  don't  bother  with.   But  the  idea  here  is  the 
exposure  of  young  talent  to  all  those  other  people.   I  mean, 
this  is  the  best  thing  that  I  can  help  them--not  tell  them  but 
just  say,  "Go  and  look,  go  and  listen,  and  then  work  with 
that. " 

But  the  talent  is  very  young;  you  can't  expect  a  hell 
of  a  lot  at  this  stage.   Also  I  am  a  firm  believer  of  working 
with  the  talent  where  the  talent  is.   But  the  important  thing 
is  exposure  to  all  the  arts,  both  to  the  large  talent  in  the 
painting  world  or  the  dance  world  or  the  music  world  and  then 
play.   And  then  I  wait. 

ZOLOTOW:   What  about  the  relationship  to  photography?   I 
notice  that  your  print  room  has  all  kinds  of  photomechanical 
means.   Are  your  people  here  getting  into  photographic  ways 
to  create  new  images? 

ENGEL:   Well,  in  the  sense  that,  again,  the  lab  is  there. 
That's  where  you  have  to  take  chances,  but  why  not?   I  mean, 
I  like  this  idea  of  introducing  a  talent  to  another  field 
and  seeing  when  there  is  an  explosion.   Or  if  there  is  an 
explosion.   Or  if  there  is  some  kind  of  blooming  that  will 
occur . 


ZOLOTOW:   Yes,  because  I  think  of  that  McLaren  thing  of  the 
Pas  de  Deux.   Remember,  he  did  that  basically  photographi- 
cally.  And  then  how  did  he  get  that  movement?   Was  that  on 
an  optical  printer? 
ENGEL:   Optical  printer,  yes. 
ZOLOTOW:   You  have  an  optical  printer  here? 

ENGEL:   We  have  an  optical  printer  here.   And  that  is  really 
the  heart  of  the  more  experimentational  filmmaker,  because 
that's  where  they  can  really  make  magic,  go  and  do  all  the 
impossible  things.   I  mean,  you  can  shoot  something  in  black 
and  white,  and  then  go  on  optical  printer  and  put  color  in 
it.   You  can  triple,  quadruple  an  image.   You  can  make  fifty 
passes  on  one  frame.   I  mean,  that's  a  magic  machine,  and 
it's  a  must  today  for  a  filmmaker.   In  fact,  the  big  differ- 
ence, I  think,  today  in  the  talent,  when  they  come  into  a 
place  like  that,  they  ask  you  if  you  have  an  optical  printer, 
they  ask  you  if  you  have  an  Oxberry. 

Now,  years  ago,  and  at  the  studios,  I  mean,  a  guy  would 
come  into  a  studio,  like  Hanna-Barbera  or  Warner's  or  MGM  or 
Disney--!  mean,  for  them  to  even  ask  if  you  have  an  optical 
printer,  they  would  kick  him  out.   [laughter]   Because  even 
today,  most  of  those  guys,  they  don't  even  know  what  the 
hell  you're  talking  about  if  you  talk  about  optical  printer. 
ZOLOTOW:   Do  you  feel  you're  sort  of  the  leading  edge,  the 
cutting  edge  of  the  art  world,  sitting  here? 

ENGEL:   Yes,  today,  I  think  in  the  field  of  a  certain 
genre  of  animated  film,  yes,  we  are  definitely  a  force.   We 
have  created  films  and  images  and  concepts  on  film  that  just 
did  not  exist  before.   So,  this  place  is  that.   Of  course, 
I've  been  very  lucky,  because  I've  had  some  very  beautiful 
people.   When  I  say  "beautiful,"  I  mean  talents  who've  been 
coming  my  way.   It's  just  one  of  those  fortunate  things  that 
always  has  happened.   But  we  are  definitely  a  force.   And 
although  I  use  the  word  animation,  I  don't  like  that  word. 
But  at  the  moment  I  have  no  other  word.   Because  "animation" 
people  always  relate  to  arts,  life,  and  the  world. 
ZOLOTOW:   Why  don't  we  just  call  it  "film  art"? 
ENGEL:   "Film  art"  would  be  much  better,  yes.   Because  when 
you  mention  that  word  [animation] ,  people  are  so  conditioned- 
ZOLOTOW:   Mickey  Mouse. 

ENGEL:   --to  what  it  was  before,  that  they  have  no  concep- 
tion--what  is  this  all  about?   An  interesting  situation 
today  is  that  the  dance  is  so  popular.   I  think  probably 
the  most  inventive  art  that's  happening  today  is  taking 
place  in  the  dance  world  on  stage;  and  people  will  go  to 
that  and  can  enjoy  this  beautiful  thing  which  deals  just 
with  movement.   And  yet,  when  you  do  that  on  a  screen, 
people  have  a  problem  of  going  with  it.   Now,  I  thing  maybe 
the  word  animation-- they  look  at  it  as  animation,  and  they 
don't  quite  buy  it  or  enjoy  it.   You  mentioned  "film  art," 


"art  projected,"  or  "projected  art" — all  these  things  would 
be  much  more  apropos  with  that  aspect  of  filmmaking  that 
is  happening  here  and  what  I  am  pursuing  here. 
ZOLOTOW:   One  of  the  things  that  is  happening  in  the  world 
of  so-called  fine  art  is  that  there's  a  whole  anti-art  move- 
ment.  They're  saying  the  galleries  are  dead,  paintings  to 
hang  on  the  wall  are  dead,  easel  painting  is  dead.   And  the 
peculiar  thing  about  your  activity  to  me  is  that  you  don't 
say  that  the  canvas  is  dead,  but  you  have  certainly  moved 
centuries  away  from  the  canvas  into  this  kind  of  film 
activity.   And  I'm  curious--do  you  think  that  video,  TV,  and 
the  other  kind  of  electronic  forms  are  going  to  replace 
canvases  and  prints  and  the  still  images? 

ENGEL:   No,  I  don't  think  it  will  replace  it.   No  way.   I 
think  painting  is  going  to  be  here.   And  video  is  going  to 
be  here.   And  film  is  going  to  be  here.   And  sculpture  is 
going  to  be  here.   And  it's  all  going  to  be  here,  and  they're 
just  going  to  work  parallel.   But  not  going  to  replace  one 
another.   If  there  is  a  great  painter  who  comes  around 
tomorrow,  or  a  great  sculptor  tomorrow,  everything  is  back 
as  big  as  it  was  yesterday.   Film  is  just  a  child.   This 
whole  medium  is  just  a  child,  such  a  bastard  medium  at  the 
moment,  that  it  cannot  replace  the  great  arts  of  yesterday 
in  no  way. 
ZOLOTOW:   I'm  not  talking  about  yesterday.   I'm  talking 


about  if  a  vigorous  young  talent  comes  along,  you  know, 
will  he  be  drawn  to  this  medium  here  because  it  is  new, 
it  is  exciting,  it's  in  the  twentieth  century?   And  will 
he  not  be  drawn  to  the  single  image  of  the  canvas?   That's 
the  question.   Are  you,  is  this  room  going  to  siphon  off 
the  best  of  the  kids,  and  the  weakest  of  them  wind  up 
painting  pictures? 

ENGEL:   Oh,  no,  no.   I  mean  the  good  ones  will  paint  pictures. 
And  the  good  ones  will  make  films.   They're  not  going  to 
siphon  off  to  any  one  avenue.   I  think  what's  happening 
more  and  more,  that  the  talents  are  working  in  the  different 
medias.   I  think  that's  just  going  to  be  much  more  the  scene 
than  just  picking  a  particular  avenue.   It's  happening  now, 
and  I  think  it's  going  to  happen  more  and  more,  because  you 
can  buy  equipment  and  it's  not  going  to  be  expensive. 

And  I  think  artists  are  always,  no  matter  how  serious 
and  how  big,  what  a  giant  they  were,  they  still  have  to  be 
in  a  character  where  they're  playing.   You've  got  to  play, 
and  if  you  don't  play,  you're  finished,  because  that's  the 
name  of  the  game.   So  they  are  going  to  play  with  the  medium 
of  the  canvas.   But  I  don't  think  that  you  can  walk  into  a 
home  where  you  have  kind  of  a  spiritual  presence,  and  you're 
just  going  to  have  empty  walls  looking  at  you.   There's 
nothing  wrong  with  empty  walls,  but  I  mean  that's  just  the 
nature  of  man  that  he  wants  to  live  with  things  that--not 


just  a  piece  of  decoration,  but  that  has  a  life  of  it's 
own.   And  I  think  great  art  has  a  life  of  its  own,  and  a 
man  wants  to  share  this  piece  of  art  with  himself,  you 

ZOLOTOW:   Yes,  I'm  glad  you're  saying  that,  because  for  a 
long  time  people  have  been  talking  about  what  one  man  has 
called  the  industrialization  of  the  mind.   I  mean,  for  a 
long  time,  every  technological  device  was  considered 
automatically  a  step  forward,  and  apparently  you  don't 
consider  film  a  step  forward,  you  just  consider  it  another-- 
ENGEL:   — another  form  of  expression,  another  form  of  art. 
And  I  think  that's  the  most  beautiful  thing  about  it,  that 
you  can  go  back  and  forth.   You  go  into  one  room,  and  you're 
looking  at  great  paintings;  you  go  into  another  room,  and 
you're  looking  at  great  films.   Of  course,  you  don't  have 
any  great  films  to  look  at  as  yet,  but  at  some  time  we  will, 
because,  as  I  said,  the  medium  is  so  young.   But  I  don't  see 
that  at  all  when  people  say  that.   I  just  don't  understand 
them.   Because  when  I  go  to  Paris,  I  have  to  go  to  the  Louvre; 
when  I  am  in  New  York,  I  go  to  the  Museum  of  Modern  Art  and  I 
go  to  the  Met [ropoli tan  Museum  of  Art].   And  I  go  and  see 
films.   And  I  go  to  the  galleries  and  see  new  painters.   I'm 
very  anxious  to  see  new  sculptures  or  collage  or  whatever 
form.   And  I  am  very  interested  to  go  to  the  theater  and  see 
a  dancer  like  Twyla  Tharp  or  Merce  Cunningham  or  Alvin  Alley. 


ZOLOTOW:   That's  an  extraordinary  attitude,  and  that's  why 
I'm  hoping  to  have  you  develop  it.   Because  from  what  I 
have  been  hearing  of--well,  I'm  looking  at  Marcel  Duchamp, 
and  of  course,  he  produced  almost  no  art.   I  mean,  he  really 
was  the  origin  of  the  anti-art  sentiment  that  motivates  a  lot 
of  young  artists  today.   He,  in  effect,  said,  "Why  do  it? 
Why  make  paintings  for  dealers  to  sell  to  rich  people,  and 
so  on?"   But  you  don't  share  that  really. 

ENGEL:   No,  I  can't  share  it,  because  when  you  do  something, 
you  do  it  because  you  have  to  do  it.   I  mean,  you  don't  tell 
a  bird  to  stop  singing.   You  have  great  stars  at  the  opera 
house  and  you  have  Stravinsky  and  you  have  a  Bach  and  a 
Beethoven.   I  mean,  he  still  keeps  on  singing,  and  you  keep 
on  listening  to  him,  and  you  keep  enjoying  it.   Well,  an 
artist  is  in  the  same  position,  if  he's  really  something 
very  special.   He  has  no  choice.   He  will  create.   He  has 
to  create.   I  mean,  it's  part  of  his  chemistry.   These  are 
things  that  we  can't  explain,  but  it  goes  on  all  the  time. 
And  the  talent  that  comes  around  me,  I  mean,  they  are  coming 
around  because  they  are  interested  in  the  medium  of  film. 
It  doesn't  mean  that  five  or  ten  years  from  today,  they  stay 
with  the  medium,  because  it's  possible  that  they  just  go 
back  to  painting  or  sculpture  or  prefer  still  the  other  arts. 
ZOLOTOW:   You  know,  one  of  the  things  I  think  it  would  be 
good  to  have  on  record  is  your  view  of  the  evolution  of  Cal 


Arts.   We  did  not  discuss  how  this  school  came  about. 
ENGEL:   Well,  I  don't  know  anything  except  when  I  first 
came  here  and  they  said  we'd  like  to  talk  to  you.   But  I 
have  no  idea  how  it  came  about  before  that.   I  know  that 
when  the  thing  was  in  motion-- 

ZOLOTOW:   Pick  it  up  where  you  got  on  board.   When  was  that? 
ENGEL:   Well,  I  was  on  my  way  to  New  York.   I  was  going  to 
move  to  New  York.   A  dear  friend  of  mine  heard  about  it, 
and  he  said,  "We  don't  want  you  to  leave  for  New  York, 
because  there  is  a  school  that  is  going  to  open  up,  and 
maybe  they  can  use  you. " 

And  they  had  a  very  dear  friend  whose  name  was  Anais  Nin, 
and  they  called--because  Anais  Nin  evidently  knew  Herb  Blau. 
So  they  told  Anais  Nin  about  me,  who  met  me  years  before, 
but  I  don't  think  there  was  any  strong  remembrance.   You  know 
how  sometimes  you  meet  people,  and  then  you're  in  limbo  with 

ZOLOTOW:   Yes,  but  you  can't  forget  her  once  you  meet  her. 
She  can  forget  us.   [laughter] 

ENGEL:   That's  right.   So,  this  friend  called  her,  you  know, 
and  the  next  thing  I  know  I  was  with  her  and  on  my  way  to 
Herb  Blau.   Then  Herb  Blau  had  me  over  and  had  a  kind  of  a 
rough  cross-examination,  lasted  like  three  hours.   I  never 
talked  three  hours  in  my  life  before,  and  he  just  kept,  you 
know,  talk,  pumping  me  and  pumping  me.   That  went  on,  and 


then  I  met  [Robert]  Corrigan.   Corrigan  saw  the  films, 
and  Blau  saw  the  films  that  I  had  done  already.   And  then 
I  met  Sandy  [Alexander]  MacKendrick,  who  was  then  already 
on  the  board  as  the  dean.   And  they  needed  somebody  for 
this  particular  department.   So,  just  simple  as  that,  they 
liked  the  material,  and  the  next  thing  I  knew,  I  was  part 
of  Cal  Arts. 

ZOLOTOW:   You  weren't  involved  in  any  of  the  struggles  and 
the  push-pulls. 

ENGEL:   Before  that,  and  all  that? 

ZOLOTOW:   Well,  even  then  things  got  pretty  complicated 
when  Blau  got  in  trouble. 

ENGEL:   Oh,  yes,  when  Blau  and  Corrigan--  When  we  first 
opened,  naturally,  it  was  very  hectic,  because  the  idea 
was  very  big.   The  concept  of  what  the  school  was  about 
was  going  to  be  something  very  spectacular.   But  a  lot  of 
people  that  came  here  really  didn't  know  how  to  use  that 
kind  of,  let's  say,  freedom  that  they  had.   And  they  just-- 
I  think  they  just  blew  their  tops.   And  they  almost  wrecked 
the  whole  joint. 

ZOLOTOW:   Tell  us  about  that  period.   I  don't  know  if  any- 
body's putting  this  into  the  history. 

ENGEL:   Well,  no,  it  was  just  what  happened.   We  were  up  in 
Glendale;  they  rented  that  old,  old  school. 
ZOLOTOW:   Convent,  wasn't  it? 


ENGEL:   Convent,  some  girl's  Catholic  high  school  [Villa 
Cabrini].   And  so  we  just  moved  into  the  rooms.   There  was 
no  furniture.   You  sat  on  the  floors.   You  sat  on  boxes. 
I  think,  the  largest  problem  was  with  the  humanities.   That's 
where  the  problem  came,  because  I  think  at  that  time  the  idea 
was  to  go  out  into  the  street  and  have  some  kind  of  confron- 
tation with  the  local  police  in  Glendale.   And  then  once 
that  would  take  place,  then  everybody  would  run  back  to  the 
school,  and  then  they  would  have  something  to  talk  about. 
I'm  putting  it  more  in  a  humorous  way,  but  it  turned  out 
that  that  kind  of  activity  constantly  was  that.   Because 
the  dancers  were  already  dancing,  the  painters  were  painting, 
the  filmmakers  were  already  involved  making  film,  but  the 
humanities  had  a  kind  of  a  problem.   Somehow  they  were  so 
unstructured,  because  it's  going  to  be  free  and  you  can  do 
as  you  damn  well  please,  you  can  come  and  go.   And  the  next 
thing  you  know,  we  had  all  kinds  of  problems  with  the  people 
in  Glendale.   And  the  humanities-- that  was  the  big  problem. 
They  liked  that  idea  of  having  this-- 

ZOLOTOW:   Okay,  obviously  you  don't  want  to  get  into  the 
nitty-gritty  detail.   Well,  some  of  it  has  been  written,  and 
somebody  will  put  it  on  record,  that  period,  but-- 
ENGEL:   Well,  probably  a  lot  of  things  happened,  you  see, 
but  myself,  not  ever  being  part  of  a  school  structure  (I  come 
here  from  a  professional  world),  I  don't  even  know,  really. 


who's  doing  what  to  whom,  because  I  don't  know  the  mechanics. 
Now,  the  other  people  that  were  in  other  institutions  knew 
all  the  strings.   But  when  you're  an  outsider,  you  come  into 
a  place  like  this,  you  really  don't  know. 

ZOLOTOW:   Yes,  it's  like  my  relation  to  Art  Center.   I  feel 
like  an  outside  hired  hand. 

ENGEL:   You  don't  know.   Now,  once  you're  in  this  world  for 
some  years  and  you  begin  to  know  the  principal,  the  vice- 
president,  the  provost,  and  how  those  things,  then  you  begin 
to  get  part  of  it.   Maybe  today,  I'm  much  more  aware,  you 
know,  what  is  going  on  in  the  place.   But  then  maybe  I'm 
the  kind  of  person  that  frankly,  I  don't  give  a  damn  about 
those  things,  because  I  have  my  terrain.   I'm  working,  and 
I  said,  "The  hell  with  it.   If  there  are  problems  like  that, 
let  them  solve  it.   I  don't  care." 

ZOLOTOW:   Okay,  let's  get  off  the  school  then.   The  thing 
that  we  might  explore  a  little  more  is  working  both  in  the 
painted  canvas  and  in  the  film,  what  are  the  aesthetic 
similarities  or  differences  between  the  two  media? 
ENGEL:   The  similarities?   Well,  if  you're  a  painter  like 
I  am,  naturally,  and  I'm  working  in  a  certain  characteristic 
of  the  canvas,  which  is  the  hard-edge,  geometrical,  archi- 
tectural, structural  thing,  naturally,  I'm  going  to  take 
some  of  those  shapes  and  ideas  and  want  to  put  them  into 
movement.   I  mean,  for  me,  that  is  the  interesting  situation. 


to  put  the  character  which  is  on  a  canvas  into  motion.   For 
me,  that's  very  lovely.   But  then  again,  I've  always  been 
very  involved  in  the  world  of  dancing.   Then  the  other  edge 
is  that  I  would  like  to  put  the  painterly  shapes,  the 
painterly  characteristics  on,  get  them  into  motion,  but 
also  put  the  dancing  world,  the  dance  world,  the  Martha 
Graham  world,  onto  graphics  and  into  motion.   So  that's  the 

ZOLOTOW:   Well,  the  Martha  Graham  world  is  still  concerned 
with  storytelling,  poetic  storytelling  as  well  as  motion. 
Has  storytelling  been  an  interest  of  yours? 

ENGEL:   Storytelling,  when  I  worked  on  my  films,  has  never 
been.   If  I  worked  at  the  studios,  naturally,  then  it's  a 
must.   It's  just  part  of  it,  and  I  participate  and  do  it. 
But  at  the  moment  I  don't  quite  want  to  get  involved  with 
storytelling  because,  frankly,  there  are  so  many  people 
doing  that  anyway.   Everybody's  doing  that,  so  that  I  am 
very  comfortable  letting  them  all  do  that,  because  as  I 
say,  everybody's  doing  that,  everybody's  telling  stories. 
The  problem,  I  think,  in  this  whole  film  area  now — there 
are  very  few  people  doing  these  other  things  where  you're 
dealing  with  movement  and  have  all  the  characteristics  of 
a  painter's  approach  to  movement  to  the  film,  or  the 
painterly  approach.   I  think  that  you  don't  find  much 
around.   But  storytelling — I  think  everybody  wants  to  tell 


ZOLOTOW:   One  of  the  reasons  I  bring  this  up  is  that  now, 
in  the  world  of  paintings,  people  are  asking  for  a  return 
to,  somebody  said,  "pre-Courbet  painting,"  painting  that 
was  involved  with  poetry,  social  ideas,  storytelling.   In 
fact,  I  think  it  was  Bill  Brice,  in  an  interview  in  Art  News, 
that  said  he  felt  the  time  had  come  for  us  to  pick  up  previous 
things  that  painting  used  to  be  involved  with.   And  painting 
was  involved  with  poetry  and  storytelling,  social  ideas. 
And  I'm  just  wondering  whether,  sitting  here  with  this  medium 
which  is  a  natural  storyteller  but  that's  been  telling  jokes 
for  years--the  only  story  it's  ever  told  has  been  jokes--do 
you  feel  that  when  painters  move  into  these  concerns,  or  pick 
them  up  once  again,  maybe  film  will  be  waiting  for  them,  you 
know,  as  a  new  way  to  be  a  Delacroix,  or  a  new  way  to  be--? 
ENGEL:   Well,  from  my  corner-- [ laughter ]  When  Bill  Brice  is 
talking,  he's  talking  from  his  corner.   When  I'm  talking, 
I'm  talking  from  my  corner.   And  from  my  corner  I  don't  see 
any  such  concern.   Because  you're  not  going  to  tell  an  artist 
that  we,  the  public,  are  ready  to  reach  back  to  pre-Courbet 
or  whatever.   No  way.   I  think  a  talent  comes,  and  he  comes 
in  his  own  time,  and  he  has  to  work  what's  right  for  him. 
My  feeling  is  that  no  such  thing  will  happen.   What  will 
happen,  let's  say,  I  don't  know,  but  I  cannot  see  them  going 
back  to  anything.   I  don't  think  that  we're  put  together 
that  way.   We  don't  go  back  to  the  horse  and  buggy,  we  don't 


go  back  to  the  airplane  with  a  prop,  and  we  don't  go  back 
to  fountain  pens,  the  thick,  heavy,  bulky  fountain  pens. 
I  don't  see  any  way  to  go  back  to  anything.   I  think  Bill 
Brice  is  dreaming,  or  he  would  like  to  have  that  happen, 
but  I,  from  my  corner,  I  can't  see  that.   No  way.   I  think 
you  come  along  in  your  time,  and  you  work  as  the  time  is 
right  for  it,  but  no  way  that  you  can  go  back.   I  think 
that  you  are  always  going  to  have  dramatics,  you've  got 
to  have  dramatics,  but  the  theater  is  going  to  take  care 
of  dramatics.   I  think  the  film  is  not  quite  really  put 
together  for  dialogue,  because  I  think  what  people  still 
enjoy  in  film  is  the  feeling  of  movement.   If  you  start  a 
film  and  you're  going  to  have  nothing  but  dialogue  going  on 
up  there,  you're  going  to  destroy  the  medium.   There's  some- 
thing about  this  medium,  film,  and  what  people  enjoy  about 
it  is  the  sense  of  movement.   I  don't  know  why  people  enjoy 
that,  but  they  enjoy  it.   Now  you  can  see  film  after  film 
where  the  beginning  is  just  sheer  movement.   Nothing  happens, 
but  somebody  sits  on  a  bicyle  and  rides.   Another  picture 
starts  with  an  airplane  in  the  sky,  and  it's  going  and  going 
and  going.   There's  another  film  I  saw  recently  where  it 
started  with  waves,  and  it  just  goes  and  goes  and  goes,  and 
then  pretty  soon  somebody  comes  to  the  beach.   But  it's 
interesting,  all  these  films  starting  with  just  sheer  move- 
ment.  Now,  what  happens?   There's  something  about  that  that 


people  feel  right  about.   It  moves,  and  this  is  what  it's 
all  about.   Good  heavy  dialogue,  and  large  meanings,  T 
still  prefer  on  the  stage;  that's  me.   I  love  the  stage, 
and  I  love  the  fact  that  it  happened  there.   Naturally, 
you've  got  to  have  dialogue  on  the  stage,  and  you  will 
have  it.   But  it  will  have  nothing  to  do  with  what  took 
place  yesterday.   It  will  have  nothing  to  do  with  what  the 
painters  did  yesterday,  because  they  were  storytelling  and 
stuff  like  that.   Whatever  dialogue  is  going  to  happen,  it's 
going  to  happen,  because  it's  going  to  be  right--but  not 
with  the  view  because  of  what  happened  yesterday.   This  is 

just  from  my  corner.   No  way. 

ZOLOTOW:   Do  you  see  the  reintroduction  of  subject  matter  in 
painting?   I  mean,  look  at,  well,  we've  got  the  photorealists 
now,  and  then  we  had  the  pop  guys  before  that,  turning  their 
eyes  on  parts  of  the  world  that  painters  hadn't  looked  at 
before.   Do  you  see  that? 

ENGEL:   No,  I  think  it's  just  a  moment.   I  think  it  seems 
like  eternity  because  you're  part  of  it.   But  if  you  look 
back  ten  or  fifteen  or  twenty  years  later,  you're  going  to 
see  this  thing's  just  like  bubbles — it  has  just  disappeared. 
I  think  these  are  just  things  that  are  brought  on  by  galler- 
ies and  brought  on  by  people  because  it  sells,  it  makes 
news — these  are  quickies.   I  don't  see  anything  in  them. 
But  I  accept  them  as  part  of  my  time.   I  accept  them  as 


I  accept  a  headline.   And  often  they  are  headlines  and 
nothing  else.   But  you  cannot  go  back.   You  cannot  go  back, 
to  anything.   I  mean,  you  can  look  at  it  and  enjoy  it,  but 
I  think  these  are  just  moments,  of  no  consequence  really. 
But  I  still  accept  them  as  part  of  my  life,  and  I  think  I 
understand,  it  has  to  happen.   But  I  think  whatever  is 
going  to  happen  tomorrow,  it's  not  because  you're  going  back 
to  something  yesterday,  in  other  words. 

ZOLOTOW:   I  didn't  do  justice  to  that  idea  if  I  implied  it 
was  just  a  retreat.   What  I  was  trying  to  suggest  is  that 
some  people  in  the  world  of  painting  feel  that  certain  ideas 
that  have  been  not  of  concern  in  the  last  fifty  years  are 
going  to  become  of  concern  again,  the  way  the  Museum  of 
Modern  Art,  with  its  Beaux  Arts  show,  suggested  that  certain 
concerns  of  Beaux  Arts  architecture  which  were  thrown  out  by 
Le  Corbusier  and  by  the  organicists  may  be  reintroduced,  but 
in  a  new  form.   I  phrased  it  badly. 
ENGEL:   Yes.   Okay. 

ZOLOTOW:   A  thing  that  interests  me  about  your  conviction 
that  films  dealing  with  movement  and  space  and  color  and 
shape  are  going  to  be  with  us  in  the  future--how  do  you  see 
them  being  distributed? 

ENGEL:   Well,  I  see  them  distributed  in  the  museums.   In 
other  words,  they  will  be  part  of  the  museum.   In  other 
words,  I  see  [that  at]  every  museum  we're  going  to  have  a 


projection  room.   Every  museum  is  going  to  have  several 
projection  rooms.   It's  going  to  be  just  part  of  your 
going  to  a  museum  and  seeing  this  projected  art.   I  can 
also  see  them  in  galleries,  where  galleries  will  have 
small  gadgets  where  you  work  with  a  tape--the  material 
is  going  to  be  on  the  tape.   You  put  it  with  this  gadget 
into  this  piece  of  machine,  and  it  comes  onto  the  screen. 
It's  going  to  be  sold  like  you  sell  albums,  music,  in  the 
same  way.   In  fact,  it  probably  could  go  on  a  record,  the 
image  could  go  onto  the  record.   You  just  put  it  on  and 
you  have  a  projected  image.   So  I  see  these  things  as  part 
of,  well,  like  you  buy  a  lithograph,  or  you  buy  a  multiple. 
I  can  see  them  as  people  buying  it  like  they  buy  books,  and 
they  have  a  library.   But  people  are  already  beginning  to-- 
oh,  it's  another  reason.   People  are  beginning  to  buy  films. 
Now,  twenty- five  years  ago,  it  was  unheard  of  that  a  young 
student  could  go  out  and  buy  films.   Well,  damn  it,  today, 
they're  buying  films.   They  go  out  today  and  buy  early 
black  and  white  films  which  cost-- 
ZOLOTOW:   Sixteen  [millimeter]. 

ENGEL:   Yes,  which  cost  five,  eight  dollars,  beautiful 
things.   But  they  are  buying  films  today.   And  this  is  very 
new,  and  that's  very  interesting.   And  I've  been  in  a  lot 
of  homes  of  people  who  are  film  buffs,  like  you  have  record 
buffs,  and  they  have  projectors.   They  are  buying  projectors. 


and  they  have  a  screen.   A  lot  of  homes  now,  you  know, 

they  pull  a  screen  down.   This  is  the  way,  and  it's 

happening  because  they  are  buying  films.   I  was  very 

surprised  when  I  first  began  to  realize  that  the  young 

people  are  buying  films.   This  never  happened  before. 

My  God,  I  was  over  at  UPA  and  Disney,  nobody  had  a  film. 

But  today,  they  have  films. 

ZOLOTOW:   I  used  to  rent  films  a  lot. 

ENGEL:   Or  you  rent.   But  they  buy.   They  buy.   They  want 

to  have  it.   And  I  think  galleries  definitely  will  have 

rooms  predicated  for  showing  films.   And  there's  no  question 

that  museums--because  look  at  the  Los  Angeles  art  museum, 

[which]  has  big  film  events  where  they're  showing  Mervyn 

LeRoy  and  characters  like  that.   I  mean,  this  is  just  a 

natural  next  step  in  the  world  of  art,  running  films. 

ZOLOTOW:   Well,  you  know,  of  course,  the  big  revolution  is 

going  to  be  cartridge  TV.   Apparently  within  two  or  three 

years  we're  going  to  see  some  more  signs  of  that. 

ENGEL:   Yes. 

ZOLOTOW:   So  that's  what  you  see.   You  see  the  museum 

playing  a  role  and  the  16  millimeter  projector  playing 

a  role,  and  maybe  the  8  millimeter,  those  cheap  little 

rear  projection  units  that  are  developed  for  8  millimeter, 

and  then  the  video  cartridge,  and  you  see  that  as  the  natural 



ENGEL:   Natural  distribution  of  these  art  films.   For  art, 

yes  . 

ZOLOTOW:   Well,  do  you  ever  see  this  integrated  in  the 

feature  film  as  we  know  it?   Do  you  ever  see  any  of  the  new 

expressive  or  communicative  techniques  you  have  being 

swept  up  by  an  avant-garde  director  and  integrated  into 

feature  filmmaking? 

ENGEL:   Well,  I  think  you  see  maybe  little  tiny  bits,  like 

2001  [A  Space  Odyssey] ,  you  know,  that  one  where  he  goes 

through  that  space  area. 

ZOLOTOW:   Doug  Trumball's  section,  yes,  the  split  scan. 

ENGEL:   Yes,  so  you  saw  a  little  of  it  there.   And  then 

you  see  some  very  bad  thing  where  this  guy  did  Tommy-- 

ZOLOTOW:   Yes,  terrible. 

ENGEL:   It's  terrible,  but  that's  the  problem. 

ZOLOTOW:   No,  but  I  mean  do  you  ever  foresee  it  being  done 


ENGEL:   Oh,  yes,  oh,  yes. 

ZOLOTOW:   Do  you  ever  foresee  artists  like  your  artists  here--? 

ENGEL:   Oh,  definitely,  it's  a  must,  it's  a  must.   It  takes 

a  little  time,  but  it's  a  natural  thing.   It's  going  to 

happen--that ' s  tomorrow.   Oh,  but  yes,  there's  no  question 

about  it,  because  people  are  getting  so  conditioned  to  all 

kinds  of  imagery.   Now  you  can  begin  to  come  in,  and  it's 

no  problem  for  them  to  participate  emotionally  [with]  what's 


on  the  screen  through  this  imagery.   It's  going  to  happen, 
it's  just  a  question  of  somebody  has  to  come  along  with  a 
film  which  has  all  these  characteristics,  and  people  will 
love  it.   The  problem  is  that  people  who  are  still  running 
the  film  world  are  still  so  definitely  locked  in  to  what's 
been  yesterday-- 
ZOLOTOW:   — or  last  month — 

ENGEL:   — or  last  month  [laughter],  that  it's  hard,  it's 
hard  to  break  that  wall.   But,  oh,  it's  on  it's  way,  there's 
no  question  about  it. 

ZOLOTOW:   This  is  the  first  time  I  thought  about  it, 
listening  to  you  here,  and  it  really  does  seem  to  me  a 

ENGEL:   Oh,  yes,  it's  all  around  you,  you  know.   Somebody 
just  has  to  have  the  opportunity  to  do  it.   People  today 
will  buy,  they'd  buy  it. 

ZOLOTOW:   How  strong  is  the  cinema  deparment  here,  the  live- 
action  cinema  department? 

ENGEL:   It's  very  strong.   In  fact,  the  cinema  department 
here  is  the  same  as  it  was  when  the  school  first  opened. 
That's  the  one  department  where  all  five  persons — Sandy 
MacKendrick,  Terry  Sanders,  Don  Levy,  Kris  Malkiewicz  and 

ZOLOTOW:   Terry  Sanders  was  here? 
ENGEL:   He's  been  here  from  the  beginning. 


ZOLOTOW:   Oh,  I  didn't  know  that. 

ENGEL:   Oh,  yes.   [All  five]  have  been  here  from  the  very 

beginning.   And  it's  very  strong.   It's  very  powerful. 

ZOLOTOW:   Well,  maybe  this  new  film  artist  that  has  the 

resources  of  live  action  and  film  art,  maybe  that  new  film 

artist  is  going  to  come  out  of  here. 

ENGEL:   You  hope  so.   I  would  like  to  see  it.   But,  for  me, 

we  have  produced  some  fantastic  talent.   The  new  book  just 

came  out  from  the  Whitney  Museum  [of  American  Art  in  New 

York],  which  works  with  the  American  Federation  of  Arts, 

called  New  American  Filmmakers,  you  know,  and  in  that,  in 

the  film-graphic  area,  Adam  Beckett  has  a  full  page.   Dennis 

Pies  is  in  there.   Pat  O'Neill  is  in  there.   And  myself,  I 

am  in  there.   So  here  is  four  people  from  Gal  Arts  in  this 

new  book  called  New  American  Filmmakers.   So,  I  think  the 

texture  is  right  here,  the  ambience  is  right. 

ZOLOTOW:   So  when  I  asked  you  whether  you  felt  you  were 

at  the  cutting  edge,  you've  got  justifiable  reason  to  think 

that  you  are. 

ENGEL:   It's  a  shame  I  didn't  bring  the  book.   I  just  got 

it  yesterday  from  the  Whitney.   But  it's  very  powerful. 

You  see,  that's  the  difference  between  USC  and  UCLA  and  us. 

ZOLOTOW:   Okay,  let  me  ask  you  another  funny  thing,  because 

I  get  a  real  strong  feeling  about  this  film  department  here. 

How  do  the  painting  students  view  this  activity  in  this  school? 


ENGEL:   Well,  so  far,  they've  been  very  keen.   They're 
very  keen,  and  they  applaud  us.   The  accolades  are  really 
plentiful  from  them.   They've  really  been  very  good  to  us. 
They  appreciate,  and  they  understand.   They  know  that  this 
is  something  very  important  that's  been  growing  here  and 
happening  here.   So  I  really  have  the  backing  of  other 
departments,  including  the  dance  school,  because  I've  put 
on  some  film  performances  for  the  dancers,  to  open  their 
eyes  to  the  mechanics  and  the  possibilities.   But  the 
painters  in  this  school  are  very  keen  about  us.   Really 
they--you  know,  I'm  not  trying  to  say  something  that's  not 
real  or  honest,  but  really  they  look  to  this  place  as  some- 
thing very,  very  special. 

ZOLOTOW:   Well,  you  know,  it's  a  refreshing  thing  to  hear 
because,  I  don't  know,  I  talk  to  people  and  I  don't  get 
this  kind  of  story. 

ENGEL:   Oh,  you  mean  about  this  place? 
ZOLOTOW:   No,  about  other  schools. 

ENGEL:   Oh,  you  mean  where  they  knock  the  other  departments 
or  something  like  that? 

ZOLOTOW:   Yes,  where  there  isn't  this  kind  of  feeling. 
Obviously  this  is  a  uniquely  motivated  and  strong  department 
you  guys  have,  and  its  connection  to  the  traditional  painters 
and  the  traditional  printmakers  and  all  that  seems  to  be 
pretty  exciting  and  pretty  good. 


Well,  what  haven't  we  covered,  Jules? 
ENGEL:   I  don't  know.   See,  I  don't  come  with  notes,  so-- 

ZOLOTOW :   Well,  I  think,  you  know,  we  have  some  sense  of 
where  you  came  from  personally,  and  I  think  we've  covered 
the  relationship  of  yourself  to  the  Disney  world,  and  the 
relationship  of  the  Disney  world  to  what  spun  off.   It's 
really  funny,  because  it's  almost  duplicated  at  Cal  Arts, 
because  you've  got  a  Disney  department--right?--and  you're 
like  a  spin-off  department.   I  think  we've  covered  your 
relationship  between  painting  and  film  art  as  you  see  it. 
I  think  we've  really  covered  the  story. 


DECEMBER  16,  1977 

WESCHLER:   This  is  the  first  tape  of  the  second  series  with 
Jules  Engel,  and  we're  interviewing  today  at  the  [Charles] 
Aidikoff  Screening  Room  in  Beverly  Hills  where  we're  going 
to  see  some  of  Jules 's  films.   Well,  Jules,  perhaps  you  can 
introduce  them  yourself. 

ENGEL:   Yeah.   Well,  you're  going  to  see  about  eight 
abstract  films,  and  this  will  be  probably  a  good  indication 
of  where  we  go  from  here  as  far  as  your  questioning  me  on 
my  intentions,  where  I  am,  where  I  am  going. 

The  first  film  is  Train  Landscape,  and  it's  a  paint- 
er's approach  to  filmmaking,  to  putting  painting  in  motion. 
Primarily  I'm  working  here  with  vertical  lines.   The  reason 
for  that  is  because  it  gives  me  a  kind  of  effect  that  is 
not  known,  not  discovered.   So  we're  discovering  imagery 
that  comes  about  when  you  put  images  in  motion.   So  the 
idea  here  is  to  discover,  which  often  is  my  concept  or 
approach  to  filmmaking,  where  I  am  at .   In  as  much  as  I 
worked  in  the  major  studios  where  you  had  so  much  restric- 
tions, you  never  had  any  opportunity  to  have  things  happen, 
I  mean,  happy  accidents  or  painterly  accidents,  or  even 
from  the  point  of  view  of  a  sculptor,  that  accident  that  I 
can  find  here.   [the  film  starts] 


These  are  straight  lines,  and  you're  already  beginning 
to  feel  the  strobes,  something  the  vertical  lines  would 
give  you,  strobes.   Now,  this  is  total  taboo  in  the  stu- 
dios, but  I'm  interested  in  that  aspect  of  it,  because  as  a 
painter  I  could  never  get  this  character  on  canvas.   But 
because  you're  working  in  time — in  other  words  how  long  I 
hold  a  straight  line  on  the  camera,  whether  I  hold  it  a 
second  or  two  seconds  or  eight  frames  or  four  frames--this 
will  give  me  the  front  strobes.   You  see  a  lot  of  strobes 

WESCHLER:   And  you're  using  color. 

ENGEL:   And  color  also.   But  very  little  color  here, 
because  I've  always  been  very  interested  in  strong  black 
and  white. 

Now  you  begin  to  get  really  the  feeling  of  the  strobes 
here  on  the  straight  lines.   And  this  is  a  form  of  discov- 
ery that  I'm  very  interested  in  when  I  work  in  film.   Very 
nice.   It's  wonderful  stuff  all  through  here.   It's  all 
strobes,  and  it's  all  geared  timing.   It's  all  strobes 
— beautiful.   Fantastic.   [the  film  concludes] 
WESCHLER:   I  notice  that  the  sound  score  is  by  Stan  Levine. 
Does  he  develop  the  score  after  you've — ? 

ENGEL:  Yes.  I  like  to  finish  a  film,  and  then  I  have  some 
session  with  a  musician.  But  I  always  look  forward  for  him 
to  surprise  me.   Just  as  I'm  looking  for  surprises  or 


accidents,  I  also  want  him  to  surprise  me,  because  I  could 
nowhere  near  have  the  idea  that  he  as  a  musician  would 
have.   So  I  think  here  he  did  something  very  special.   As 
my  art  work  is  still  the  terrain  of  a  painter,  he  at  the 
same  time  brought  me  a  sound  score  that  had  the  character 
of  a  poet  and  not  just  a  sound  score  that  would  be  some- 
thing you  could  pick  up  by  going  to  the  train  stations.   So 
I  leave  the  musician  open;  I  want  to  give  him  all  the  free- 
dom.  Again,  I  hope  that  he'll  surprise  me  with  the  kind  of 
image  sounds  that  I  could  never  in  a  million  years  think 

WESCHLER:   One  other  question  about  the  general  form:   Do 
you  work  mathematically  at  some  of  the  effects  that  are 
created,  or  are  mathematics  not  at  all  part  of  it? 
ENGEL:   No,  I  don't  work  mathematically,  because  that  would 
put  me  in  the  terrain  of  a  computer  animator.   No,  the 
rhythm  has  to  come  from  me,  and  it  comes  from  my  gut. 
Although  this  is  hard-edged  stuff  that  you've  been  looking 
at,  I  am  incredibly  influenced  by  the  world  of  dancing. 
That  is  a  major  influence  apart  from  painting  or  being  a 
sculptor.   And  so  the  rhythm  that  I  have  is  something  maybe 
from  that  world  that  I  have  experienced.   But  I  do  not  work 
with  any  kind  of  formulas.   I  think  that  because  I'm  so 
interested  in  the  world  of  dancing  and  I  had  some  experi- 
ence in  it  (but  not  professional  or  anything),  I  think  I 


just  have  a  good  sense  of  rhythm.   Often  the  musicians, 
they  said  that  when  they  start  to  work,  they  discovered 
there  is  a  natural  rhythm  they  can  work  to  which  is  there. 
But  I  prefer  to  create  my  own  rhythm  and  timing.   But 
timing  is  something  that — maybe  because  I  have  all  those 
years  of  experience  in  the  medium — but  timing  is  something 
that  you  either  have  or  you  don't  have.   That  is  something 
you  can't  develop.   You  can  go  to  dance  school  and  learn 
all  the  steps,  but  if  you  don't  have  a  body  rhythm,  forget 
it,  you  see.   So  I'm  glad  that  you  asked  that  question, 
because  it's  been  asked  before,  and  some  people  do  look  for 
formulas.   They  very  specifically  ask  me  how  do  I  struc- 
ture, what  formula  or  musical  gimmick  [do  I  use].   But  I 
don't  work  that  way.   It's  just  from  the  gut. 
WESCHLER:   One  fact  question:   How  long  did  it  take  you  to 
make  that  particular  film? 

ENGEL:   Oh,  I  think  it  took  me  about  three  months  to  do  the 
art  work,  and  the  shooting  was  maybe,  I'd  say,  about 
fourteen  to  sixteen  hours  under  the  animation  camera.   But 
the  art  work,  maybe  three  months,  just  to  put  it  together. 
WESCHLER:   Well,  why  don't  we  see  the  next  one? 
ENGEL:   Okay.   The  next  one  is  Accident .   We  go  into 
entirely  different  terrain.   You'll  see  an  animal  running, 
and  the  idea  here  is  to  disturb  that  piece  of  artwork  that 


you  see  there  so  completely  that  you  almost  end  up  with 
something  else.   Okay.   [film  starts  and  concludes] 

Now  again,  you  see,  if  I  thought  of  maybe  a  sound  of 
the  dog  making  a  panting  sound —  But  then  I  let  Carl  Stone, 
the  musician,  I  let  him  come  up  with  something.   I  like 
what  he  came  up  with,  because  the  other  one  would  have  been 
just  a  natural  sound  with  nowhere  the  mystery,  the  magic 
that  is  on  the  screen.   Because  the  kind  of  sound  he  came 
up  with — this  clung-clung — it's  like  breaking  up  a  piece  of 
porcelain.   That's  what  I  mean:   I  would  like  the  musician 
to  surprise  me,  and  he  did  surprise  me. 

I  wanted  to  work  with  this  idea  of  when  I  have  a  piece 
of  art — and  also  the  aspect  of  a  smudge,  you  know,  how  when 
you  smudge  something  that's  a  nice  texture  there.   The  only 
way  I  could  make  it  really  interesting  for  an  onlooker  is 
to  have  here  a  dog  that  you  can  relate  to.   It's  a  dog  that 
is  running,  and  it's  running  well,  and  this  thing  happens. 
You  take  him  off  the  paper,  bit  by  bit;  and  eventually  all 
I  had  left  there  was  the  smudge  or  something  that  I 
couldn't  quite  get  off  the  paper  altogether.   But  at  the 
same  time  I  have  arrived  at  another  image,  and  arrived  at 
this  other  image,  again,  this  form,  because  I'm  working  in 
time  and  I'm  working  in  movement.   The  aspect  of  the  smudge 
to  me  was  something  that  I  can  always  get  when  I  make  a 
situ  drawing;  I  leave  it  there,  and  those  are  nice 


accidents.  But  here  I  had  to  go  about  it  other  ways  so 
that  the  onlooker  will  have  a  kind  of  sympathy  with  the 

WESCHLER:   It's  interesting  in  hearing  you  talk  that  when 
one  sees  the  title  Accident  one  gets  a  certain  kind  of 
image,  like  a  traffic  accident,  but  in  hearing  you  talk, 
you're  also  interested  in  the  accidents  and  things  that 
happen  when  you  erase  and  so  forth. 

ENGEL:   That's  right,  that's  what  this  is  all  about. 
Often,  the  interpretation  is  very  wrong,  because  they  make 
the  associations  that  you  said.   But  actually  the  accident 
was  that  of  using  the  eraser  and  having  the  smudge  happen. 
So  that's  a  whole  different  terrain. 

WESCHLER:   That  is  a  very  visceral  image  to  watch  hap- 
pening, and  I  think  you  relate  to  it  on  one  level  almost  as 
a  philosophical  concept  about  mortality  or  so  forth.   But 
do  you  try  to  discourage  that  kind  of  interpretation? 
ENGEL:   Yes,  I  would,  because  I  had  none  of  that  in  my 
head.   No,  it  was  strictly  a  piece  of  line  drawing,  a 
pencil  line,  a  dark  line  on  a  piece  of  white  paper,  and 
then  you  take  an  eraser  and  begin  to  take  some  of  it  off, 
and  then  all  those  wonderful  things  happen.   But  to  make  it 
interesting — because  you're  still  dealing  with  a  medium 
where  you  have  onlookers  and  a  lot  of  people — so  I  had  to 
give  something  that  they  can  relate  to.   If  I  was  doing, 


let's  say,  this  strictly  for  a  museum  or  an  exhibit,  maybe 
I  would  not  use  a  dog.   But  I'm  still  dealing  in  a  terrain 
that  I  want  people  to  get  acquainted  with;  and  the  only 
way,  sometimes,  you  can  pull  them  in  is  to  give  them  a 
little  something  back  that  they  can  get  ahold  of. 
WESCHLER:   Well  the  dog  is  also  an  incredibly  graceful 
creature,  this  particular  dog;  it  reminds  me  of  some  of 
your  comments  about  dance. 

ENGEL:   Yes,  that  was  very  important,  to  have  this  beau- 
tiful piece  of  rhythm  on  the  screen. 
WESCHLER:   Did  you  take  a  film  of  a  dog. 

ENGEL:   No,  I  worked  from  an  [Eadweard]  Muybridge  book.   I 
studied  the  dog  there,  and  I  used  those  movements.   But 
then  I  would  exaggerate  the  movement,  so  that  when  you  see 
it  here,  it's  a  very  beautiful,  rhythmic  movement;  and  at 
the  very  end  you  just  have  those  little  black  feet. 
WESCHLER:   It's  spectacular  how  long  you  have  the  image  of 
the  dog  beyond  when  it's  almost  completely  smudged.   It 
continues  to  be  there  for  the  onlooker. 

ENGEL:   Yes.   Actually,  when  I  finished  the  film  I  wish  now 
that  I  would  have  gone  with  him  a  little  longer;  just  a 
little  longer.   But  that's  the  way  things  happen. 
WESCHLER:   Well,  what  have  you  got  for  us  next? 
ENGEL:   Next  is  Shapes  and  Gestures.   Now,  this  is  a  film 
where  the  influence  of  the  dance  world  is  very  obvious. 


It's  pure  abstraction,  and  it's  really  pure  graphic  choreo- 
graphy.  I  think  the  musician  again  came  through  here  and 
did  something  very,  very  special,   [film  starts,  runs, 
concludes ] 

WESCHLER:   For  people  who  didn't  see  that  and  only  heard 
the  tape,  the  images  are  as  graceful  as  the  music.   The 
music  seems  to  fit  them  perfectly. 

ENGEL:   [Steve  Goldman]  did  the  job.   It  took  him  like  six 
months.   I  had  no  idea  that  it  was  so  long:   I  thought  the 
film  was  much  shorter,  and  I  had  no  idea.   But  he  used 
mostly  classical  instruments,  a  very  young  fellow,  and  I 
think  he  did  a  beautiful  job  of  scoring  it.   He  doesn't 
make  it  too  cute.   Sometimes  he  goes  with  the  rhythm  and 
sometimes  he  stays  away  from  it;  it's  in  and  out.   So, 
again,  see,  I  could  never  have  visualized  this  kind  of  a 
musical  score.   So  that  was  again  one  of  those  wonderful 
things  that  he  gave  me  back  something  that  I  hoped  he'd  do 
with  the  piece.   Now,  this  is  pure  graphic  choreography 
where  the  dance  is  very  obviously  influencing  me,  the 
movement  and  gestures.   It's  again  this  pure  abstraction 
working  with  the  simple  lines.   I'm  very  keen  on  art 
working:   that  it  does  look  like  a  line,  a  drawing,  it  does 
look  like  something  that  you  put  on  paper,  it  doesn't  look 
mechanical,  it's  not  pretty,  it's  not  gimmicky,  it's  not 
clever.   It's  very  simple,  and  sometimes  simplicity  is  very 


difficult  for  people  to  accept  because  they  look  for 
something  that's  clever. 

Now  the  other  thing  is,  it's  interesting  for  me  that 
people  will  go  to  a  dance  concert,  let's  say  Merce  Cunning- 
ham.  All  he  does  is  walk  around  the  stage,  you  know,  and 
he  stops  and  walks  around  the  stage.   That's  it — no  music, 
no  sound — and  people  are  very  comfortable  with  it.   All 
they  see  is  pure  movement,  and  nobody's  going  to  try  to 
say,  "What  the  hell  does  that  mean:   a  tree  walks  around? 
or  a  pyramid?"   No,  it's  just  a  man  walks  around  and 
they're  comfortable.   I  think  what  I'm  trying  to  do  here 
with  these  things  is  to  have  the  same  character.   In  other 
words,  when  you  come  to  see  this  film,  it's  more  like 
seeing  a  concert,  an  exhibit,  an  exhibit-concert,  more  than 
a  film.   People  think  of  film  immediately  in  certain  ways 
because  they're  conditioned.   But  I  think  this  fits  into 
the  terrain  of  a  concert  world. 

WESCHLER:   Do  you  find  that  it's  possible  to  bring  this 
before  dance  audiences  rather  than  film  audiences?   It 
seems  that  most  people  who  see  these  are  people  who  are 
film  freaks. 

ENGEL:   Well,  I  think  this  is  where  I  am  heading  for.   I  am 
heading  for  that  world  where  I  can  have  a  dance  audience  or 
a  concert  audience  to  see  these  things,  or  a  painter.   But 
that's  the  world  that  I'm  working  in,  and  this  is  why. 


often  for  critics  or  judges,  it's  very  difficult  for  them 
to  put  themselves  into  that  scene.   'Cause  what  I  should 
have  rather  is  a  dance  critic  come  and  see  it.   When  I  run 
these  things  for  dancers,  the  reaction  is  incredible.   At 
Cal  Arts  I  often  have  a  program  of  these  films  for  the 
dance  school,  and  it  gives  a  lot  of  ideas  for  the  dancers. 
At  the  same  time,  I  needle  them  a  little  bit — "Look  what  I 
can  do  that  you  can't  do" — but,  I  mean,  that's  just  a 
friendly  suggestion.   But  that's  the  terrain  where  this 
film  and  these  ideas  function.   It's  not  really  for  what 
you  call  a  film  audience;  it's  something  else.   It's  an 
extension  of  the  dance  floor;  it's  an  extension  of  the 
music  world;  it's  an  extension  of  the  painting  and  sculp- 
ture world.   You  see,  it's  all  that  and  it's  something  of 
its  own  that  I  am  doing.   But  it  still  has  all  those 
ingredients.   But  this  is  film,  this  is  new,  the  whole 
scene  is  new.   You  know,  all  we  can  go  back  to  is  1920,  to 
Viking  Eggeling  and  Hans  Richter,  and  that's  all. 
WESCHLER:   One  thing  that  I  just  wanted  to  note  in  terms  of 
my  own  reaction  was  just  the  grace.   That's  the  word  that  I 
would  use  for  some  of  the  movements;  they  were  just  incred- 
ibly graceful.   What  have  you  got  next? 
ENGEL:   The  next  one  is  called  Wet  Paint  [actually 
Landscape] .   It's  not  a  flicker  film  like  some  people 
relate  it.   It's  a  color-field  painting  in  time.   It's  very 


important:   a  color-field  painting  in  time.   By  that  I 
mean,  if  you  go  into  a  gallery  and  let's  say  the  canvases 
are  red  or  yellow  or  blue,  you  can  walk  through  or  you  can 
stop  at  your  own  time;  but  what  I'm  doing  here,  I  am  doing 
that,  but  I  make  the  time,  I  allow  the  time  for  each 
canvas.   That  gives  you  a  clue.   [film  starts]   Oh  wait, 
this  is  a  different  film.   [film  concludes] 
WESCHLER:   So  this  one  was  different  than  we  thought. 
ENGEL:   Yeah,  it  was  my  fault.   This  was  Wet  Paint  and  the 
interesting  thing  here  is  that  I  asked  him  [Nikolaj 
Bogatirev]  not  to  follow  the  image  too  closely.   I  wanted 
him  to  have  the  music  function  with  the  film  but  almost  as 
if  it  was  coexisting.   They  each  work  on  their  terrain,  and 
they  work  in  themselves;  but  still  they  don't  get  in  each 
other's  way,  and  they  help  each  other.   So  that  was  very 
important  here,  because  when  you  relate  this  to  Shapes  and 
Gestures  here  the  music  was  just  playing  around  the  place 
and  yet  they  worked  together.   So  that  is  what  I  asked  him 
to  do,  but  that  was  the  only  thing.   Then  he  looked  at  the 
film,  and  he  was  trying  to  work  out  a  music.   After  maybe 
about  fifteen  or  eighteen  or  twenty  sessions  that  he  was 
looking  at  it — that  was  like  three  months  later — we  said, 
"Okay,  let's  do  it."   Then  we  made  one  take,  ran  the  film, 
and  he  had  the  continuity.   But  also  here  I  structured  a 
very  straight  line,  so  there's  a  structure  almost  like  a 


building  against  a  soft,  simple  image,  just  dabs  of  color, 
and  a  lot  of  texture  here.   I  used  a  very  soft  paper 
because  I  wanted  the  paint  to  seep  through  the  paper  and 
maybe  end  up  with  something  at  the  bottom,  which  it  did. 
So  that  was,  again,  the  kind  of  beautiful  accidents  and 
gestures  that  I  look  for.   I  [found  them  here]  by  using 
another  paper  where  the  paint  had  a  chance  to  go  through, 
and  then  I  would  look  back  and  there  it  was,  you  know.   It 
just  happens.   But  it's  good,  and  it  makes  this  kind  of  a 
thing  more  human,  you  know,  it  has  the  human  quality.   You 
know  man  is  at  work,  and  it  doesn't  look  like  a  piece  of 

WESCHLER:   How  do  you  relate  it  to  Shapes  and  Gestures? 
They  seem  in  similar  universes. 

ENGEL:   Yeah,  but  in  Shapes  and  Gestures,  all  the  shapes 
are  very  hard-edged,  cleaner  and  more  geometrical.   Whereas 
here  the  shapes  are  very  loose,  primarily,  and  a  lot  of 
shapes  just  happen  because  of  the  character  of  the  paper. 
Even  his  music  was  then  like  that:   Instead  of  hitting  the 
notes  or  hitting  the  shapes,  it  was  just  sort  of  playing 
around;  so  it  had  the  same  character. 
WESCHLER:   Which  did  you  do  first  of  those  two? 
ENGEL:   Oh,  Shapes  and  Gestures  I  did  way  before  this  one. 
Often,  when  I  do  something  as  structured  as  Shapes  and 
Gestures,  then  I  have  a  desire  to  do  something  very  loose. 


you  know,  to  loosen  up.   And  so  this  is  how  this  came 

The  next  one  is  Landscape ,  and  that's  the  one  I 
described  earlier.   [film  starts,  runs,  concludes]   Stan 
Levine  scored  that  one  also. 

WESCHLER:   Why  don't  you  talk  about  this?   You  mentioned 
the  color-field  quality  before. 

ENGEL:   It's  a  color-field  painting  in  time.   That  means 
that  what  it  does  is  to  give  you  just  so  much  time  on  each 
color,  and  by  doing  that  I^  give  you  the  right  and  not  you 
giving  me  your  time  when  you  walk  through  my  exhibit  and 
you  just  run  through  or  maybe  stop  for  a  painting.   I  did 
stop  for  some  paintings — the  red  and  the  blue,  when  I  give 
you  a  little  more  time  to  watch  the  color.   But  even  if  you 
walked  through  the  gallery  and  saw  the  exhibit,  you  would 
still  never  have  the  interaction  with  the  colors,  how  the 
red  came  forward  an  the  blue  moved  backward,  which  is  just 
naturally  characteristic  of  these  colors.   One  recedes  and 
the  other  goes  forward. 

WESCHLER:   I  was  thinking:   In  this  particular  one,  you  are 
much  more  interested  in  optical  effects,  things  that  human 
beings  in  their  perception  would  experience  about  the  blues 
and  the  reds  and  how  they  bleed  together,  back  and  forth 
and  so  forth. 


ENGEL:   Yes,  and  that  of  course  just  comes  about  because, 
again,  you're  working  with  time.   That  is  something  that  a 
painter  has  to  consider,  that  when  you  work  with  film 
you're  working  in  time.   That's  why  it's  so  important,  that 
word,  "in  time" — how  long  it's  up  on  the  screen,  how  short 
a  time  it's  up  on  the  screen.   But  you  mentioned  [the 
optical  effect]  that  happened.   That  is  something  that's 
almost  like  a  by-product.   That  other  color  that  sometimes 
you  see — it's  not  there,  but  you  see  it  because — 
WESCHLER:   Did  you  do  a  lot  of  experimenting  yourself  to 
develop  those  kinds  of  effects? 

ENGEL:   Well,  I  shot  a  lot  of  colors  and  got  some  kind  of 
idea  how  they're  going  to  interact.   Toward  the  end  you  saw 
there  were  very  soft  blues  and  purples  where  they  just 
hardly  move,  but  you  saw  the  change. 

WESCHLER:   That  was  with  the  train  whistle  at  that  point. 
ENGEL:   Yes.   Again,  it's  by  shooting  some  tests  and  then 
putting  the  whole  thing  together.   It's  really  like  one 
large  canvas.   Again,  you  need  the  film,  and  you  need  time 
to  create  those  secondary  effects  that  a  painter  cannot  get 
on  a  canvas.   That's  why  this  whole  adventure  is  so  ex- 
citing, because  there's  so  much  to  discover  in  this  medium, 
there's  so  much  there  that  we  don't  know.   The  only  way  is 
by  sometimes  just  shooting  and  seeing  what  comes  back; 
then,  if  you  want  to,  you  can  make  notes,  so  the  next  time 


you  go  into  it  you  know  what's  going  to  happen.   But  the 
minute  you  do  that,  you're  already  restricting  yourself, 
and  I  think  we're  too  early  in  this  terrain  to  restrict 
ourselves  to  anything  like  that. 

The  next  one  is  silent.   Now,  here  is  Fragments,  just 
a  pencil  line.   You  have  to  watch  it  because  sometimes  it's 
so  little.   [film  starts]   The  idea  of  what  I'm  doing  here 
is  this  idea  that  there  is  space  behind  the  canvas;  I  poke 
holes  into  the  canvas,  and  the  line  disappears  and  comes 
out  of  the  canvas,  you  see.   [film  is  running]   Sometimes  I 
go  off  and  that's,  of  course,  a  surprise,  but  then  other 
times--  And  you  also  repeat;  you  repeat  like  a  musical 
theme  repeats.   Sometimes  I'll  do  something  like  that, 
where  I'm  going  to  leave  a  little  dot  where  he  goes  in,  so 
those  are  with  the  holes. 

WESCHLER:   Are  the  holes  consistent  on  the  canvas?   Are 
there  about  eight  places  where  they  go  out,  or  do  they  go 
out  anywhere? 

ENGEL:   Well,  they're  consistent  as  far  as  where  I  struc- 
ture them,  you  know,  the  movement.   The  idea  is  that  there 
is  space  behind  the  canvas  as  there  is  space  in  front  of 
it.   The  movements  were  working  here  more  in  a  circle,  but 
then  also  now  I'm  going  to  bring  very  straight. 
WESCHLER:   Straight  seems  to  read  as  having  more  velocity. 


ENGEL:   Yes.   [film  concludes]   I  think  I'm  going  to  leave 
it  like  that,  not  have  any  sound. 

WESCHLER:   Is  that  a  fairly  recent  one  that  you've  done? 
ENGEL:   No,  it's  about  four  years  ago,  one  of  the  earlier 
ones . 


DECEMBER  16,  1977 

WESCHLER:   You  were  just  talking  about  Fragments.   You  were 
going  to  leave  it  without  sound. 

ENGEL:   Yes,  leave  it  without  sound,  because  I  think  it's 
just  an  idea  of  this  very  delicate  pencil  line  and  a  piece 
of  white  paper  and  at  the  same  time  working  with  the  idea 
of  puncturing  the  canvas  with  a  pencil.   Again,  as  a 
painter,  I  could  never  really  do  this  kind  of  thing,  but 
showing  a  way  that  there  is  space  behind,  that  you  can  move 
into  it  and  almost  move  into  an  incredible  amount  of  space 
that  is  just  there,  and  you  can  make  good  use  of  it  by 
doing  just  that.   There  was  a  painter,  a  sculptor,  [Lucio] 
Fontana,  Italian  painter,  who  did  some  wonderful  things  on 
a  still  plate  or  a  copper  plate — he  would  have  holes  in 
it — and  in  a  sense  I've  been  always  very  jealous  of  that. 
I  wanted  to  do  something  like  that  here,  and  this  was  a 
perfect  approach  to  that.   But  I  think  I'll  sometime  do  the 
next  step  where  I'll  have  the  line  go  into  the  canvas  and 
leave  a  hole  there  and  then  see  what  happens  when  the  whole 
canvas  is  full  with  these  holes,  like  he  did  on  copper 

WESCHLER:   The  silence  in  that  piece  reads  like  negative 
space  in  a  way,  so  that  it  fits  right  in  with  the  white  of 
the  canvas. 


ENGEL:   Yes,  yes. 

Now  the  next  one  is  Rumble.   Now  here,  after  these 
gentle  delicate  lines  almost,  here  I  go  to  very  heavy, 
almost  bombastic,  kind  of  like  a  [Franz]  Kline  painting. 
So  much  work  in  this  terrain  is  kind  of  light,  and  I  wanted 
something  really  heavy  and  weighty,  very  much  influenced  by 
the  world  of  dance.   Even  the  title  came  from  West  Side 
Story — "Rumble" — and  the  sound  took  wonderful  care  of  it 
(it  almost  looks,  feels  like  logs  rolling).   Okay.   [film 
starts,  runs,  concludes] 

David  Shoemaker  scored  that,  and  I  think,  again,  he 
captured  the  character  of  the  shapes.   He's  a  very  good 
musician:   they  had  six  hundred  applicants  at  Yale,  and 
they  only  took  three — he  was  one  of  the  three  that  were 
accepted.   But  I  think  he  really  got  hold  of  those  shapes 
and  sounds.   It's  a  hard-edged,  heavy  painting.   Yet  at  the 
same  time,  every  once  in  a  while  I  come  from  way  back  and 
come  forward;  so  I  give  you  the  feeling  that,  again,  there 
is  space.   If  I  had  this  on  a  canvas,  it  would  all  be  on 
the  surface.   But  by  having  it  come  from  there,  small 
growing  to  big,  again,  I  point  out  the  character  of  space 
that  the  film  gives  you.   As  I  said  before,  I  wanted  to  do 
something  where  the  shapes  would  be  big  and  heavy  and  bold. 
Now,  interestingly,  a  man  in  France  asked  me,  a  film 
critic,  "Why  black?"   That's  a  strange  question,  "Why 


black?"   "Why  not?"   I  said.   "Why  not?"   But  you  see  how 
far  these  people  are  removed  from  that  world:   he  wanted 
color.   Well,  I  mean,  you  have  black  etchings,  you  have 
woodcuts  in  black,  you  have  painters — Ad  Reinhardt  worked 
with  black.   And  yet  here's  a  film  man  who  said,  "Why 
black?   It's  so  heavy,"  he  said.   But  you  see  how —  Because 
people  are  so  conditioned,  what  film  sometimes  is,  if  you 
do  something  like  this.   And  I  was  quite  surprised,  because 
he  was  a  very  bright  man,  and  he  was  very  disturbed.   "Why 
black?"   That's  what  I  wanted  to  do  is  to  have  this  kind  of 
a  weight  on  the  screen.   The  shapes  are  painterly.   They 
make  good  paintings,  but  I  could  never  have  had  the 
excitement  and  vitality  that  I  got  there.   And  also 
switching  from  the  black  background  to  the  white  image  or 
the  white  background  to  the  black  image;  and  letting  the 
shape  come  from  the  top  or  sometimes  from  the  bottom  and 
going  from  left  to  right  or  right  to  left.   So  I  created  a 
kind  of  excitement  that  I  could  never,  never  get  on  a 
canvas.   And  that,  again,  is  the  magic  of  working  in  time. 
WESCHLER:   Are  you  interested  in  the  room  in  which  the  film 
is  being  shown?   In  this  particular  film,  it  completely 
lights  up  the  room  when  it's  white,  and  it  makes  it  dark, 
it  makes  pyramids  of  light  and  so  forth.   Is  that  inter- 
esting to  you? 


ENGEL:   Yes,  that's  very  interesting  to  me.   Of  course, 
this  one  lights  up  the  room,  almost  as  if  lights  were 
turned  on  and  off.   Also,  with  this  film,  you  need  a  large 
canvas.   The  other  day  I  ran  the  film,  and  the  canvas  was 
that  big,  and  I  had  to  explain  that  this  is  a  painting  that 
needs  forty-by-fifty,  or  fifty-by-fifty.   So  that  is, 
again,  a  very  important  character  of  the  film,  that  some- 
times I  make  the  size  of  the  screen  very  important.   And 
here  a  very  big  canvas  was  important. 

WESCHLER:   A  naive  question,  as  someone  who's  obviously  not 
an  artist  myself:   Do  you  find  that  when  you're  working  on 
this  that  you  are  psychologically  more  on  edge  or  tenser 
than  when  you're  working  on  the  very  graceful  gestural 

ENGEL:   Oh,  yes.   When  I  work  on  the  other  one,  that's  very 
soft,  very  gentle,  almost  like  listening  to  a  piece  of 
chamber  music. 

WESCHLER:   And  you  feel  that  way  yourself  afterward,  after 
working  that  way? 
ENGEL:   Yes,  yes. 
WESCHLER:   And  this  one? 

ENGEL:   This  is  entirely  different.   It's  a  blast,  and  that 
I  feel,  because  this  is  the  only  way  I  can  really  get  the 
rhythm  into  the  film. 


Now,  this  was  a  film  where  I  was  asked  by  a  very 
competent  filmmaker  what  rhythm  structure  I  used.   And 
again  you  see  people  are  so  locked  in  to  that  aspect  of  it. 
But  I  cannot  do  that  because  my  feeling —  The  way  I  feel 
about  the  rhythm  structure  is,  I  think  it's  so  right,  that 
it's  all  there.   Now,  he  wanted  me  to  give  him  a  formula. 
Well,  I  don't  work  with  formulas,  you  see.   You  make  a 
gesture  and  the  people  say,  "Oh,  you  made  a  gesture.   What 
does  it  mean?   Is  it  a  tree?"   "No,"  I  say,  "it's  not  a 
tree,  it's  just  my  hand."   You  see,  it's  as  simple  as  that. 
Maybe  it's  not  that  simple  to  other  persons,  but  for  me 
it's  just  that  simple.   But  the  film  always  has  a  totality: 
it  has  a  beginning,  it  has  a  middle,  it  builds,  and  then  I 
like  sometimes  the  surprise  ending,  which  is  very  impor- 
tant, also  it's  very  theatrical.   But  the  exit  and  entrance 
is  very  important  for  me  on  the  stage,  and  it's  very 
important  for  me  on  the  film — how  you  start  out,  how  you 

WESCHLER:   Continuing  my  question  of  a  moment  ago:   You  say 
you  don't  work  with  formulas.   To  what  extent  do  you  work 
with  feelings?   Is  that  a  proper  category  to  attribute  to 
your  pictures,  that  some  of  them  feel? 

ENGEL:   It ' s  a  total  feeling,  yes.   And  naturally  I  have 
some  years  of  experience,  so  I  know  where  I  want  to  go  off. 


where  I  want  to  come  into  the  scene.   Well,  that  is  the 
experience  I  have.   But  I  think  it's  also  a  natural  rhythm. 
WESCHLER:   The  response  is  one  of  feeling,  and  that's 
ENGEL:   Yes. 

WESCHLER:   You're  not  just  concerned  about  the  perceptual 

ENGEL:   No.   For  instance,  I  talk  to  my  students  and  I  try 
to  tell  them,  "If  you  come  in  from  the  right" —  And  they'll 
come  in  from  the  left  and  they'll  come  in  from  the  bottom. 
It's  very  difficult  to  convey  this  aspect  of  movement  in 
the  right  directions.   They  say,  "What  do  you  mean?"   It 
isn't  that  I  mean  anything.   That's  natural.   It's  very 
interesting  to  convey  these  ideas  to  a  beginner.   But  I 
have  to  work  through  feelings.   Plus,  don't  forget  the 
experience  that  I  have  viewing  other  work,  the  world  of 
ballet,  Martha  Graham,  Merce  Cunningham,  the  Ballet  Russe. 
I  mean,  naturally,  you  gain  something  from  that  world.   But 
then  you  want  to  connect  it  to  something  that's  your  own. 
But  I  just  assume  that  I  have  all  that  in  me,  and  so  it 

The  next  film  is  a  computer  film,  Swan.   I  have  a 
piece  of  music  [by  Camille  Saint-Saens]  which  is  very 
popular  in  the  dance  world — [Anna]  Pavlova  danced  that — and 
I've  always  wanted  to  do  something  with  this  music.   And  I 


had  this  piece  of  computer  film  for  ten  years  before  I 
decided  what  I  wanted  to  do  with  it.   In  other  words,  I 
have  done  a  lot  of  editing  here.   But  what  I'm  doing  here, 
I  want  to  put  an  end  to  those  computer  films  which  are 
beginning  to  look  like  TV  titles,  where  they  are  so  cute 
and  so  clever  that  I  think  they  are  a  total  bore.   What  I 
want  to  do  with  the  computer  is  to  cut  that  concept  into 
ribbons.   Because  in  the  painting  world,  those  things  would 
never  exist;  they  would  look  banal.   They  would  make 
magazine  covers,  but  they  would  never  exist  as  a  piece  of 
art.   So  what  you  see  here  is  none  of  that.   [film  starts, 
runs,  ends] 

See,  this  is  computer  material.   Naturally,  I  always 
wanted  to  do  something  with  that  piece  of  music.   I  had  a 
lot  of  material  for  about  ten  years,  and  about  a  year  ago 
or  so  all  of  a  sudden  I  said  "I  know  what  I'll  do  with 
this."   So  I  edit  and  cut.   Almost  out  of  this  idea  of —  It 
hasn't  been  around  much,  hasn't  been  out  too  much.   But 
every  time  I  see  a  computer  film,  everything  is  the  same  on 
both  sides,  they're  always  glued  together,  and  God,  that 
stuff  just  drives  me  crazy,  because  it's  getting  to  look  so 
much  like  television  titles.   That's  the  danger  with 
computer  film  and  people  doing  it.   They  begin  to  look  like 
industrial  graphics.   At  the  Academy  last  year,  I  was 
sitting  next  to  this  man;  we  were  looking  at  some  feature 


pictures,  and  some  computer  stuff  came  on  as  the  beginning. 
He  said  to  me,  "Oh,  a  television  title."   You  see  how 
horrible  that  is.   It  was  a  feature,  had  nothing  to  do  with 
television,  but  he  already  equated  this  kind  of  texture 
with  television  titles  and  television  commercials.   You  see 
this  damned  thing  all  over  in  television,  and  they're 
killing  this.   What  I  have  here  is  irregular  lines,  just 
moving.   There  is  no  such  a  feeling  that  they're  all  the 
same  on  both  sides.   A  lot  of  these  people  when  they  work 
with  computers,  they  work  with  engineers  who  have  abso- 
lutely no  idea  what  the  hell  they're  doing.   Most  of  these 
people  are  not  artists,  they're  really  not.   They  just  get 
on  this  gadget — and  naturally  when  you  have  a  circle  here 
and  a  circle  there  and  they're  working  at  the  same  time, 
they're  so  taken,  so  seduced  with  that  stuff.   It's  so  cute 
and  it's  lovely.   But  as  a  piece  of  art  when  you  look  at 
that  stuff — well,  it's  very  bad  stuff,  it's  incredibly  bad 
stuff,  very  banal.   So  this,  I  almost  did  it  out  of  anger. 
Because  it  has  some  lovely  stuff  here:   nothing  works 
cutely,  it's  never  cute,  the  image. 

WESCHLER:  Do  you  want  to  do  more  with  computers?  Is 
computer  technology  developing  so  that  there  are  more 
interesting  things  to  do? 

ENGEL:   I  will  do  something.   I  have  something  else  I'm 
working  on  which  is  a  lot  nicer  [Three  Arctic  Flowers] .   It 


will  be  very  popular,  I  think.   I  think  I  have  a  lovely 
piano  score  behind  it,  and  it's  not  too  long.   I  think 
it'll  work.   But  I  like  this  because  of  the  lack  of  regular 
lines.   It's  an  irregular  line  which  very  seldom  you  see. 
When  you  go  to  see  a  computer,  just  watch:   It's  always  the 
same  at  the  bottom  and  the  [top],  at  the  corners;  and  it's 
just  a  very  banal  piece  of  design. 

WESCHLER:   I  want  to  ask  you  about  the  line  in  this  movie: 
it's  beads  of  light.   Is  that  because  the  computer  was  only 
capable  of  that,  or  did  you  choose  to  have  the  beads? 
ENGEL:   No,  it's  only  doing  that.   And  of  course  the  blue 
that  comes  out  of  that,  that  just  happens,  but  it's  very 
nice.   So,  again,  I  grabbed  that  because,  as  I  say,  it  is 
very  nice.   This  is  again  that  something  that  happens;  and 
when  I  find  things  like  that,  I'm  very  happy  with  them, 
because  those  are  unexpected  things.   It's  all  there:   It's 
like  an  incredible  mine  that's  full  of  surprises.   Unless 
you're  aware  of  that,  you  almost  throw  out  the  surprises; 
whereas  I  don't  throw  out  the  surprises  because  I  think 
that's  a  most  wonderful  thing.   This  is  that  constant 
search  and  discovery  that  I  have.   See,  when  a  scientist 
goes  from  A  to  B,  that's  from  A  to  B.   Then  the  next  person 
takes  the  B,  and  he  goes  from  B  to  C,  and  then  he  goes  from 
C  to  D.   But  there's  an  incredible  progression  somehow. 
Whereas  in  art  you  don't  discover  things;  you  don't  even 


know  it's  there.   It's  not  like  taking  Picasso,  and  then  I 
go  from  there  to  something  else.   No,  you  move  into  the 
field,  and  all  of  a  sudden  you  discover  something.   I  think 
film  has  that,  but  a  lot  of  people  are  afraid  of  that,  they 
don't  know,  and  the  surprise  is  something  that  they  think 
is  a  mistake.   It's  not  a  mistake — it's  there. 
WESCHLER:   Sure,  you  realize  it's  there. 

ENGEL:   Yes.   It's  there,  yes!   So  that's  the  terrain  that 
I'm  very  much  involved  in. 

WESCHLER:   What  is  this  last  thing  you're  going  to  show  us? 
ENGEL:   Now,  the  last  thing  is  my  first  live-action  film 
which  won  the  Jean  Vigo  award,  won  half  a  dozen  awards.   It 
was  done  in  1965.   It's  called  Coaraze.   Coaraze  is  the 
name  of  a  French  village.   This  is  moving  from  the  world  of 
animation  into  the  world  of  live-action.   I  had  a  wonderful 
time,  and  also  I  used  a  lot  of  still  photography  here  (some 
of  it  you'll  be  aware  of;  some  of  it,  not).   But  it  got  a 
lot  of  wonderful  presence.   It  got  such  a  good  presence 
that  none  of  the  art  houses  would  show  it.   They  threw  me 
out  of  major  studios  with  this  film.   Ingmar  Bergman  saw 
the  film,  and  it  ran  with  his  film  in  Paris.   Even  there 
the  people  complained  to  the  management — the  sound  was  too 
this,  the  editing  was  too  fast.   We're  talking  1965,  of  an 
art  house  in  Paris,  and  it  raised  hell.   But  it's  such  a 
gentle  film.   You'll  see,  it's  nothing  like  it.   But  I  was 


able  to  incorporate  a  lot  of  ideas  coming  in  from  the 

animation  field,  knowing  how  to  use  the  animation  camera 

and  still  photos,  and  again,  as  a  painter  who  sees  things 

differently.   It's  a  very  gentle  film.   [film  starts]. 

That's  the  highest  award  you  get  in  France. 

WESCHLER:   Prix  Jean  Vigo. 

ENGEL:   Yes,  and  it  beat  out  all  the  features  that  year. 

[film  is  running]   There's  a  still.   Still.  .  .  still.  .  . 


WESCHLER:   Did  you  take  the  photographs? 

ENGEL:   I  took  all  the  still  shots,  set  up  the  camera,  and 

I  directed.   These  are  all  still  photos  put  together  a 

certain  way.   [film  ends] 

That  was  quite  a  film  because  it  is  shot  in  35  and  15 
with  all  the  stills.   But  it  is  incredible  that  in  Paris, 
you  know —  Bergman  liked  the  film,  and  he  wanted  to  do  it 
with  his  feature.   Actually  the  sound  on  the  35  is  much 
more  brittle  at  the  end,  and  [the  people  in  the  audience] 
would  complain  to  the  management,  they  complained  about  the 
editing  to  the  management,  too  fast  and  things  like  that, 
and  this  film  never  could  get  a  playdate  anyplace.   It  was 
in  the  hand  of  a  distributor  in  London — couldn't — 

But  see,  coming  in  from  animation  and  having  all  that 
experience  in  painting,  I  was  able  to  see  images  and  shapes 
and  sizes.   Then  it's  a  question  of  editing,  of  putting 


together  the  structure  and  the  film  in  a  way  that  a  little 
thing  like  that  becomes  very  potent.   A  lot  of  people  have 
seen  this  film.   But  I  could  never  get  a  job  with  that,  by 
the  way;  I  was  turned  down  every  place. 
WESCHLER:   Really! 

ENGEL:   Oh  yes,  because  they  said,  "You're  too  arty"  and 
things  like  that.   But  this  has  a  lot  of  wonderful  things 
in  that,  you  know,  and  if  you're  working  in  a  large  film, 
there's  that  kind  of  thinking.   There's  a  lot  of  things 
that  have  never  been  touched  in  live-action  when  you're 
dealing  with  content,  that  have  never  been  touched.   And 
then  when  you  go  in  with  something  like  that,  they  say, 
"You're  too  arty,"  and  stuff  like  that,  or  "It  has  good 
black  and  white."   Again,  I  think  it's  a  question  of  the 
eye,  how  I'm  able  to  see  things.   Those  doors:   I  would  cut 
those  photos  and  put  the  photos  together  in  a  way  that 
works.   People  don't  know,  look  at  it  and  don't  realize 
it's  stills.   They  don't  even  realize  that  some  of  those 
images  were  cut  down  and  put  together  to  give  you  the  nice 
feeling  of  panning  down  the  doorways.   That  man  in  the 
foreground,  you  know,  who  was  sitting — there's  a  bench,  and 
he's  at  the  other  end,  too.   I  come  up  here,  and  it's  the 
same  man  and  the  same  picture,  in  all  three  shots. 
WESCHLER:   Or  the  shot  that  suddenly  seems  like  it's  a 
photograph  and  then  the  cat  suddenly  walks  in. 


ENGEL:   And  then  the  cat  walks  in.   That's  a  sur- 
prise— that's  very  beautiful,  to  do  those  things. 
WESCHLER:   Are  the  scenes  of  children  fighting  acted  for 

ENGEL:   They  were  just  playing  for  us.   They  were  just 
having  a  hell  of  a  good  time.   I  mean,  that's  the  biggest 
thing  to  happen  in  that  little  place,  you  know,  a  couple  of 
people  with  cameras. 

WESCHLER:   Exactly  who  was  it?   Was  it  you  and  another 

ENGEL:   Oh,  I  had  a  camera.   I  had  a  35  Eclair  cameraman. 
In  fact  the  whole  fight  was  a  hand-held  35.   I'm  not  a 
photographer  really.   I  don't  know  a  damned  thing  about 
cameras,  but  they  rented  a  camera  for  me.   But,  you  know, 
if  you  have  an  eye,  you  see  things;  it  doesn't  matter, 
because  you  know  when  you  look  through,  that  the 
composition  is  all  there.   If  you  spend  your  life  composing 
pictures,  well,  it's  a  hell  of  a  lot  easier  to  pick  up  a 
camera  and  all,  because  it's  all  there  and  it's  just  a 
question  of  getting  those  images.   And  then,  of  course,  the 
next  important  thing  is  when  you  get  into  editing,  how  you 
juxtapose  images.   And  again,  that's  timing,  it's  rhythm. 
It's  something  that  you  can  learn,  you  can  acquire;  but 
some  of  it,  you  have  to  come  with  something  to  do  that. 


This  was,  as  I  say,  the  first  time  I  shot  anything  in  live- 

WESCHLER:   To  what  extent  was  this  a  purely  formal  exer- 
cise, and  to  what  extent  was  it  trying  to  say  something 
about  that  specific  town  of  Coaraze? 

ENGEL:   No,  it  was  commissioned  by  the  mayor  of  the  vil- 
lage, because  this  village  is  very  important.   All  the 
poets  come  there.   Once  a  year,  all  the  poets  of  Europe 
come  to  this  little  place  Coaraze.   He  wanted  a  film  to  be 
done  which  had  a  poetic  presence,  not  a  documentary,  so 
also  he  can  show  that  when  the  poets  come  to  that  place,  to 
see  what  a  filmmaker  will  do  with  that  place. 
WESCHLER:   And  how  did  the   mayor  feel  about  the  film? 
ENGEL:   Oh,  incredible,  because  it  won  the  Jean  Vigo  award. 
This  picture  knocked  out  every  feature  that  year;  no 
feature  film  got  the  Vigo  award.   It  got  the  Arnaud,  got, 
oh,  about  a  half  a  dozen  important  French  awards.   So 
naturally  it  was  a  beautiful  thing.   But  the  important 
thing  was  that  the  filmmaker  would  come  and  find  in  this 
place  what  you  poets  find  in  the  place. 
WESCHLER:   Did  you  ever  show  it  to  the  people  in  the 
village  and  get  their  reaction? 

ENGEL:  Oh  no,  I  had  to  leave.  He  did,  and  of  course  that 
was  a  big  thing.  I  mean,  of  them  even  being  photographed, 
it  was  a  big  thing.   So  he  ended  up  with  something  very 


special,  very  special,  and  very,  very  happy.   But  the 
interesting  thing  about  this  film,  it's  unique.   I  think 
the  film  is  unique,  especially  to  us.   But  everyplace  I 
went  in  this  country  they  wouldn't  even  show  it.   They 
wouldn't  even  show  this  film  in  this  country  in  art  houses, 
'cause  they  said,  "Aw,  that's  for  beatniks." 
WESCHLER:   Really?   [laughter] 
ENGEL:   Yeah.   Incredible,  isn't  it? 
WESCHLER:   Is  it  being  able  to  get  shown  more  now? 
ENGEL:   No.   I  show  it  once  in  a  while  when  I  have  a 
retrospective  or  things  like  that.   Otherwise,  I  haven't. 
WESCHLER:   It  doesn't  go  out  on  its  own. 

ENGEL:   No.   And  yet,  you  know,  the  reaction  to  that  has 
been  beautiful  from  people.   But,  you  take  that  into  a 
commercial  house  which  is  an  art  house,  and —  So  today  I 
won't  even  try  it.   But  I  show  it  once  in  a  while.   So 
that's  the  only  exposure  that  this  might  ever  get.   But, 
you  see,  if  you  work  in  terrain  where  you  work  with 
graphics,  where  you  really  have  to  sweat  for  composition 
and  shapes,  then  when  you  pick  up  a  live-action  camera,  you 
should  be  able  to  do  wonderful  things. 
WESCHLER:   Just  naturally. 

ENGEL:   Because  it's  there:   you  don't  have  to  draw,  you 
don't  have  to  design  it.   So  it's  a  nice  thing,  especially 
on  something  like  that  where  tons  of  textures,  the 


beautiful  textures,  the  old  people  and  the  young  kids,  the 
other  people  who  were  there,  some  are  working,  you  know. 
The  whole  place  is  about  that  big.   I  had  to  do  a  tremen- 
dous amount  of  improvising  with  those  steps,  because  that's 
what  you  get  out  of  the  place  when  you  get  there.   You're 
always  walking  up  steps,  between  walls  that  are  this  wide. 
So  I  wanted  to  capture  that,  and  the  only  way  I  could  was 
to  take  the  steps  and  put  them  together,  you  know — maybe 
they're  that  long — put  it  under  the  animation  camera  and 
shoot  it  with  the  animation  camera  with  the  movements,  you 
see.   But  I  had  to  improvise  all  those  ideas  because  the 
whole  place  was  nothing.   There  was  very  little  to  it, 
except  two  old  people  who  were  very  interesting.   But  I 
don't  like  to  do  that  with  old  people,  because  I  don't  like 
to  trespass  on  their  property,  which  is  their  body.   I 
don't  like  to  do  that.   But  just  a  couple  of  shots,  the 
hands.   But  I  resent  it  when  people  make  pictures  going 
into  old  people's  homes  and  stuff  like  that.   I  resent 
that:   they  have  no  right  to  do  that,  just  because  they're 
old  and  they  don't  know  what  to  say  about  it.   I  think  it's 
nuts.   That's  a  personal  opinion,  I  don't  think  it's  fair 
to  trespass  like  that.   But  just  a  few  shots. 
WESCHLER:   Well,  I  think  that  does  it  for  today.   We'll 
talk  some  more  about  your  films  when  we  talk  to  you  next 


ENGEL:   Yes,  but  I  think  now  you  have  something  to  go  with 


DECEMBER  22,  1977 

WESCHLER:   Jules,  we  said  we'd  talk  today  about  Oskar 
Fischinger.   On  your  previous  interview,  you  mentioned 
some  of  your  work  at  Disney,  but  today  you  might  talk 
specifically  about  your  relationship  with  Oskar  Fischinger. 
ENGEL:   Well,  it  was  an  interesting  situation  working  at 
Disney.   Especially  lately  when  I  hear  people  talk  about 
their  experiences,  people  who've  been  there  thirty  or 
forty  years — I  was  only  there  three  and  a  half--  But  they 
generally  have  the  comment  that  you  cannot  work  at  the 
Disney  studio  without  it  influencing  your  life  or  leaving 
some  imprint  on  your  life.   I  used  that  comment  recently 
at  an  Annie  banquet  where  we  honor  the  best  talents  in 
animation,  and  I  did  say  that  for  me  it  was  the  same  thing-- 
it  did  touch  my  life.   And  that  incident  was  meeting  Oskar 
Fischinger  at  the  Disney  studio.   At  that  time  I  was  already 
beginning  to  do  very  small,  pure  abstract  paintings, 
nonobjective  paintings — it  would  classify  today  as  a  hard- 
edge,  geometrical  painting.   But  because  of  the  circum- 
stances at  the  place,  I  had  to  hide  the  material,  because 
there  was  absolutely  no  simpatico  at  the  Disney  studio  for 
such  art.   And  then  I  heard  that  Oskar  Fischinger  was 
working  there  on  Fantasia,  he  was  working  on  the  Bach 
Toccata  and  Fugue.   I  heard  about  him  from  reputation.   So 


we  met,  and  for  the  first  time  I  had  found  somebody  at 

the  Disney  studio  that  was  simpatico  to  my  work. 

WESCHLER:   How  did  you  meet?   Can  you  describe  it? 

ENGEL:   I  met  him  during  a  lunch  session  in  the  foyer  at 

the  Disney  studio.   I  knew  what  he  looked  like,  and  I 

just  walked  up  to  him  and  introduced  myself.   He  was  a 

chubby--almost,  not  quite,  not  as  heavy,  but  almost  a 

little  bit  like  an  [Alfred]  Hitchcock  type  of  a  body,  a 

pink  and  white  face,  totally  bald — a  shiny,  pink,  bald 

head  and  a  tiny  nose--and  always  wore  a  black  suit  or  a 

dark  blue-black  shirt,  and  always  wore  a  hat,  a  black  hat. 

It  sounds  ominous  now,  I  guess,  but  it  wasn't  ominous, 

because  his  whole  appearance  was  always  very  casual,  and 

it  was  almost  a  natural  kind  of  presence.   What  struck 

me  immediately  about  Oskar  was  that  he  was  very  gentle, 

very  gentle  in  his  way  of  speaking.   And  a  little  confused-- 

because  I  think  of  the  environment  that  he  was  in  at  Disney. 

In  fact,  I  always  remember  him  saying,  "This  is  a  strange 

place;  there  are  no  artists  in  this  studio,  only  cartoonists." 

That  was,  of  course,  the  problem,  that  he  had  no  relation 

with  anyone  because  they  didn't  understand  him  and  he 

disliked  their  cute  and  very  banal  approach  to  graphics 

or  art. 

WESCHLER:   How  actually  did  they  feel  about  him?   Did  they 

think  he  was  a  quack  off  in  his  corner,  or--? 


ENGEL:   I  think,  if  I  would  sum  up  the  environment,  they 

would  think  he  was  a  quack  or  a  weirdy  or  something  very 

strange.   I'll  explain  it  in  a  little  more  detail  when  it 

comes  to  me,  because  then  I  think  I  can  make  more  of  a 

point.   But  the  problem,  of  course,  also  was  that  Oskar 

had  a  very  difficult  time  with  the  language  at  that  time, 

a  very  difficult  time.   The  man  who  was  the  head  of  the 

department,  or  let's  say  that  section  of  Fantasia,  the 

Bach  Toccata  and  Fugue,  was  a  Japanese  man;  and  although 

he  spoke  well,  I  think  that  was  a  little  with  the  language. 

And  Oskar  had  a  total  problem.   Also,  Oskar ' s  concepts  and 

ideas  were  so  far  out  from  their  ideas  that  there  was 

absolutely  no  relationship,  no  simpatico  at  all  for  him. 

So  after  so  many  months--!  think  he  stayed  there  six  months-- 

he  came  to  me  and  quit.   He  told  me  he  will  leave  the  place 

because  he  just  doesn't  find  anything  to  his  liking.   But, 

of  course,  he  did  not  find  the  place  artistically  stimulating, 

there's  nothing  of  that  sort  in  the  environment.   But 

to  me  he  was  very  nice,  very  good.   He  looked  at  my  work, 

he  encouraged  me.   In  fact,  he  was  the  first  person  who 

had  seen  anything  of  mine  and  had  a  good  word  to  say, 

almost  to  the  point  where  he  introduced  me  to  a  very  important 

dealer  from  Europe  whose  name  was  Mirendorf .   Mirendorf 

was  very  important,  almost  in  the  history  of  this  country, 

because  he  brought  Braque,  Picasso,  and  Klee  material  over 


for  the  first  time,  really,  in  volume  to  New  York.   So 
Oskar  knew  that  Mirendorf  was  coming  out  to  Los  Angeles, 
and  he  immediately  told  me  he'd  pick  me  up.   So  I  met 
Mirendorf,  and  I  showed  him  my  early  work.   What  stays 
with  me  very  specifically,  because  I  had — these  were  small 
paintings  about  eight  by  ten  by  twelve — and  on  one  I  used 
air  brushes.   I  remember  Mirendorf  was  very  taken  with 
that  texture  quality  of  the  airbrush.   I  at  the  same  time 
was  very  surprised,  almost  to  the  point  of  being  unpleasant, 
because  everybody  at  the  Disney  studio  was  using  airbrush 
for  backgrounds  on  Fantasia.   I  thought  it  was  incredibly 
commercial  and  phony  and  all  that,  but  here  was  Mirendorf, 
who  evidently  had  never  seen  texture  of  airbrush  on  painting, 
and  he  was  taken  with  me.   He  remarked  how  interesting  and 
unique,  and  of  course  I  couldn't  understand,  because  I 
disliked  the  airbrush  (I  only  used  it  more  to  fill  up  the 
space,  you  know) .   But  the  point  is  that  that  was  Oskar, 
you  see.   He  did  help,  he  gave  a  hand  immediately  because 
he  was  so  interested  in  that  terrain  of  art. 

The  other  friend  of  Oskar,  and  also  the  right  arm  of 
Mirendorf,  was  Galka  Scheyer.   Now  Galka  Scheyer  gave 
that  collection  of  Klee  and  some  Picasso  and  some  Braques 
to  the  Pasadena  Museum.   Galka  Scheyer  then  stayed  out  here 
in  California;  I  don't  know,  really,  her  activities,  but 
at  least  she  felt  this  was  like  a  new  world  for  that. 


Because  there  was  nothing  like  that,  around  here.   Now 

remember,  we're  talking  around  1940  to  1941.   So  Oskar  and 

myself,  we  became  very  good  friends,  and  we  visited  galleries 

together.   And,  oh,  then  I  also  had  an  exhibit,  we  had  a 

three-man  exhibit,  Oskar  Fischinger,  myself,  and  Herb 

Klynn  at  the  Clara  Grossman  Gallery  on  Hollywood  Boulevard 

right  across  from  the  Egyptian  movie  house.   It  was  a  tiny 

little  place  in  the  back  there,  and  that  was  Clara  Grossman, 

the  first  really  true  avant-garde  kind  of  a  gallery. 

WESCHLER:   Who  was  she? 

ENGEL:   Clara  Grossman  owned  the  gallery;  she  ran  the 

gallery;  that  was  her  gallery. 

WESCHLER:   Do  you  know  anything  about  her? 

ENGEL:   She  was  there  for  years,  and  she'd  run  films.   She 

had  films  showing  in  the  evenings  of  very  avant-garde 

filmmaking,  and  she  had  everything  that  you'd  consider  today 

new,  in  the  world  of  painting,  in  the  world  of  filmmaking. 

That  was  a  kind  of  a  hub.   Imagine  that:   on  Hollywood 

Boulevard,  across  from  the  Egyptian. 

WESCHLER:   Was  Clara  Grossman  independently  wealthy? 

ENGEL:   I  don't  know  if  she  was  independently  wealthy.  I 

don't  think  she  was  independently  wealthy,  because  I  think 

she  also  lived  in  a  portion  of  the  gallery  somewhere.   I 

think  she  had  to  go  somewhere  to  take  baths.   There  was  no 

bathroom  there,  you  know.   I  ran  into  her  lately — I  think 


four  or  five  years  ago — I  ran  into  her  in  New  York;  she 
was  well.   But  she  would  be  very  important  if  ever  it  comes 
to  dig  really  in  depth  into  Los  Angeles  art.   Because  she 
was  on  the  scene  and  showed  everything  that  was  new  in  art 
work.   So  that's  where  Fischinger,  myself  and  Herb  Klynn 
had  a  three-man  exhibit. 

After  that  I  was  with  Oskar  a  great  deal,  and  I  used 
to  go  over  to  his  house.   I  could  never  understand  how  he 
could  work  with  about  four  flaming  redheads  crawling  all 
over  the  place,  over  him,  under  him,  on  the  table — and 
there  was  Oskar  just  sitting  around  and  doing  his  work  or 
talking  to  me.   Nothing  got  to  him.   I  was  nervous  and 
fidgety,  but  it  didn't  bother  Oskar:   he  just  went  on  as  if 
there  was  nothing  happening.   And  at  that  time  he  was  showing 
me  all  kinds  of  ideas — two  paintings,  for  instance,  with  a 
point,  a  circle  on  the  one,  a  circle  on  the  other,  and  if 
you  stood  in  the  middle  of  the  painting  back  about  fifteen 
or  twenty  feet,  then  the  images  would  merge  into  one  image. 
Oskar  was  an  incredible  innovator  of  that  world,  but  he 
never  flaunted  his  knowledge;  he  almost  kept  it  back, 
unless  he  knew  you  well  and  knew  that  you  were  on  the  same 
world  of  painting  that  he  was  involved  in. 

WESCHLER:   During  this  period,  was  he  mainly  doing  painting 
rather  than  film? 
ENGEL:   At  that  time  he  was  still  working  on  film,  but  at 


the  same  time  he  was  now  getting  into  painting.   In  fact, 
I  would  say  he's  one  of  the  few  filmmakers  where  things 
went  in  the  reverse.   Generally  it  is  a  painter  who  turns 
into  a  filmmaker,  when  you  look  at  [Norman]  McLaren,  Jordan 
Belson,  Robert  Breer  or  myself  who  are  coming  from  the 
world  of  painters  into  film.   With  Oskar  Fischinger,  it  was 
in  reverse:   he  became  a  painter,  and  I  would  say  the  last 
ten  years  of  his  life  or  so,  he  did  nothing  but  painting. 
WESCHLER:   VJas  that  out  of  despair  about  filmmaking  and  how 
he  couldn't  get  his  films  shown? 

ENGEL:   I  think  it  probably  was  out  of  despair,  because 
I  have  a  feeling  that  Oskar  was  in  the  wrong  environment. 
I  think  Los  Angeles  was  very  wrong  for  Oskar.   He  came 
because  Paramount  [studios]  brought  him;  Orson  Welles  had 
contact  with  him.   But  I  think  Oskar  should  have  been  in 
New  York,  because  he  would  have  been  appreciated,  and  I 
think  a  lot  of  good  things  would  have  happened.   So  out  of 
despair,  I  think,  he  became  a  painter.   But  he  would  have 
become  a  painter  anyway,  because  he  loved  painting,  and  I 
really  think  he  did  very  fine  work.   I  think  he  was  really 
one  of  the  early  and  the  first  optical  painters,  although 
not  specifically  that  he  wanted  to  do  optical  printing,  but 
some  of  it  would  fall  into  that  category,  and  he  did  it 
quite  early.   I  would  say  maybe  the  work  was  a  little  uneven, 
but  he  was  innovative  enough,  still,  that  he  was  there,  he 


was  there  very,  very  early.   So  he  became  a  painter,  and 
that  is  the  way  Oskar ' s  life  came  to  an  end.   But  I  also 
feel  that  he  almost  died  with  a  broken  heart,  because  of  the 
loneliness  that  this  city  never  recognized  [him]  or  never 
gave  him  any  accolades.   In  fact,  in  the  last  five  or  eight 
years,  Oskar  is  really  coming  into  his  own,  world  wide;  they 
have  big  exhibits  of  his  films  and  of  his  art  all  over  the 
world,  and  Los  Angeles  still  hasn't  given  this  man  a  truly 
first-class  exhibit,  both  of  painting  and  of  his  films. 
WESCHLER:   Isn't  that  unusual,  because  L.A.  has  begun  to 
have  more  interest  in  art,  in  other  areas,  and  in  animation 
also,  at  Cal  Arts,  for  example? 

ENGEL :   Yes,  but  you  have  to  think  about  in  the  fifties. 
There  wasn't  much  in  this  city  that  was  really  much  simpatico 
with  that  kind  of  work.   Okay,  you  did  it,  like  he  did  it, 
but  there  was  no  audience,  and  he  was  still  looked  on  as  a 
weirdy.   If  he  walked  into  any  of  the  animation  studios, 
they  would  have  absolutely  no  use  for  this  man's  talent. 
And  so  you  have  to  tie  him  up  with  something  what's  happening 
today,  you  know,  when  a  painter  makes  films,  a  filmmaker 
paints,  and  the  whole  scene  is  different.   But  we're  back 
twenty  years,  and  nothing,  nothing  happened  then. 
WESCHLER:   Do  you  think  he  will  be  rediscovered  in  Los  Angeles, 
in  the  near  future? 
ENGEL:   Well,  I  think  Los  Angeles  should  do  something  for 


him.   Now,  I  understand  Filmex   78  will  have  a  show.   But 

I  remember  I  tried  very  hard  at  some  of  the  museums — I'm 

going  back  again  fifteen  years  when  I  was  promoting  for  him 

for  an  exhibit  and  film  showing — and  I  couldn't  get  to  first 

base  anyplace  in  this  city,  just  couldn't  do  a  damn  thing  for 


WESCHLER:   Was  animation  looked  down  upon  by  museums  at 

that  time?   Was  that  a  problem  also,  that  it  fell  between 

and  betwixt  art  and  film? 

ENGEL:   Yeah,  I  think  animation  was  looked  down  on  as  a 

medium  of  expression.   But  of  course  here  we're  dealing  with 

abstract  film  which,  even  animated  or  not  animated,  is 

still  an  extension  of  painting.   We're  dealing  with  a  painting 

in  motion.   I  think  today  it's  a  little  more  understood 

than  at  that  time,  you  see. 

But  to  go  back  to  Disney,  for  a  moment,  and  explain  the 
situation  why  Oskar  had  such  a  difficult  time  at  Disney, 
because  I  had  the  same  problem  at  that  time.   I  mean  the 
word  abstract  was  a  word  I  couldn't  use  in  a  story  session. 
Often  my  work  was  hidden  before  they  came  into  the 
room,  because  the  way  I  used  color  and  figures  was  not 
really  a  conventional  approach.   So  this  is  the  only  way  I 
can  tell  you  what  the  environment  was  at  the  place.   And 
that  environment  really  hasn't  changed.   It's  the  same 
today.   It's  the  same  in  all  the  studios.   You'll  probably 


find  one  or  two  maybe  in  each  studio  that  has  a  different 
head;  but  most  of  the  talent  there  is  all  in  the  groove 
of  the  Disney  approach,  or  a  Donald  Duck,  or  of  Road  Runner. 
That's  the  terrain  of  the  head. 

WESCHLER:   Do  you  think  there  are  more  people  who  are  kind 
of  like  you  today,  in  other  words,  who  are  interested  in 
abstract  things  but  for  business  reasons  have  to  keep  it  to 
themselves  while  they're  working  in  those  studios?   Or  do 
you  think  it  really  is  a  case  where  the  animators  and  the 
studios  just  don't  relate  to--? 

ENGEL:   No,  it's  nothing  to  do  with  business,  because 
if  you  do  this  work,  you  do  it  for  yourself,  on  your  own 
time.   But  animators,  I  would  say  about  99^5  per  cent 
absolutely  have  no  use  for  anything  except  what  happens  in 
a  strictly  animated  cartoon.   They  have  no  eye  or  desire 
to  experience  anything  else.   It  was  true  yesterday,  and  it 
is  the  same  today.   They  still  look  at  you  as  a  weirdy;  the 
whole  environment  is  absolutely,  totally  anti-art. 
WESCHLER:   Why  do  you  suppose  that  is?   What  kind  of  person 
goes  into  animation  that  that  becomes  the  case? 
ENGEL:   Well,  sometime  back  the  person  who  came  to  that 
field  was  mostly  a  very,  very  poor  cartoonist,  typically 
a  cartoonist  who  is  just  that  and  doesn't  like  anything 
else.   Today  you  have  better  talents  coming  into  the  field, 
much  better  talents,  but  they're  still  a  talent  who  would 


prefer  calendar  art  to  anything  else.   And  the  heads  of  the 

studios  are  even  worse  than  that.   They  have  absolutely  no 

use  for  anything  except  a  very  trivial  kind  of  calendar 

art.   It's  the  character  of  these  people:   they  gag  people, 

they  deal  with  gags.   There's  nothing  wrong  with  that,  because 

you  could  still  have  another  part  to  you,  but  they  just  don't 

have  it.   And  it's  still  the  same  today. 

WESCHLER:   Do  you  think  it  will  change? 

ENGEL:   Oh,  I  don't  think  so.   I  really  don't  think  so, 

because  it  hasn't  changed  the  last  thirty-five  years,  so 

it  would  have  a  difficult  time.   I've  met  a  lot  of  new 

people  who  are  coming  into  that  field,  and  they  haven't 

changed.   We'll  get  more  into  that  later. 

WESCHLER:   Some  other  questions  about  Oskar  Fischinger: 

What  became  of  his  paintings  after  he  died? 

ENGEL:   Oh,  his  paintings  are  in  the  hands  of  his  wife, 

Elfriede.   Elfriede  has  all  that  material.   She  has  a  very 

large  collection  of  paintings.   I  would  say  she  has  about 

a  couple  of  hundred  paintings  in  the  house.   So  it's  all 

there;  it's  all  there  for  somebody  to  discover  it. 

WESCHLER:   Well,  maybe  somebody  reading  this  will  go  looking. 

ENGEL:   Yeah.   And  it's  interesting,  because  he  should  be 

exhibited.   Very  few  people  know  about  him,  and  the  only 

person  outside  of  myself,  who  has  written  about  Oskar  is 

his  biographer.  Dr.  Bill  Moritz ,   Almost  everything  that  is 


written  about  Fischinger  today  is  written  by  Dr.  Bill 
Moritz.   So  that's  the  only  outlet  that  Fischinger  has  to 
this  world  today,  unless  maybe  a  few  words  from  me. 
WESCHLER:   [laughter]   Well,  do  you  have  anything  else  you 
want  to  say  about  him?   Maybe  we  can  go  on.   We  were  talking 
a  minute  ago  about  the  people  entering  animation  today. 
I  wanted  to  spend  some  time  with  you  today  and  talk  about 
your  own  activities  as  teacher  and  some  of  your  senses 
of  some  of  your  students.   You  might  first  begin  by  talking 
about  the  world  you  live  in  at  Cal  Arts,  what  your  day-to-day 
teaching  activity  is  at  Cal  Arts. 

ENGEL:   Well,  California  Institute  of  the  Arts  is  a  unique 
place  because  it  combines  all  the  arts;  it  combines  theater, 
dancing,  music,  filmmaking,  design,  some  terrain  of 
architectural  design;  it  also  includes,  of  course,  photography, 
So  it  combines  all  the  arts,  and  it  functions  more  as  a 
large  atelier  than  anything  with  school.   It  doesn't  relate 
to  what  you  call  classrooms;  it  relates  only  to  the  activity 
of  each  artist.   There  are  huge  rooms  where  the  dancers 
are  rehearsing,  a  big  stage  for  the  actors   performing, 
beautiful  ateliers  for  the  painters  where  they  are  painting, 
and  very  fine  equipment  for  the  filmmakers,  both  the  live- 
action  filmmakers  and  for  animation.   For  the  animation 
we  have  the  very  best  Oxberry  camera  and  an  optical  printer. 
But  by  having  all  the  arts  now  for  the  first  time  the  talent 


that  comes  into  animation  in  my  room  have  a  chance  to  see 
all  the  other  arts  function.   So  the  exposure  is  there. 
But  I  do  think  that  today  the  talent  that  comes  into 
animation  are  much  more  aware  of  the  arts.   Maybe  it's  just 
my  area — I  don't  know  if  this  would  be  true  for  the  studio 
when  a  fellow  walks  in  there — but  in  my  terrain,  when  they 
come  to  me,  they  are  very  aware  of  all  the  other  arts. 
Now,  I'm  involved  at  the  school  with  what  I  call  "film 
graphics  and  experimental  animation,"  but  that  takes  in 
everything,  and  character  animation  also,  but  not  in  a 
style  of  what  you  call  a  "Disney  approach."   Here  the 
character  animator  works  on  a  style  that  he  or  she  devised. 
Let's  say,  it's  a  more  sophisticated  approach,  more  like  a 
Bengelman  or  a  Steich  or  the  Frenchman  like  Sine  would 
work.   So  the  character  animation  is  not  the  tradition,  but 
it's  completely  against  tradition.   Then  I  have  the  others 
where  you  have  the  painter  working  in  a  medium;  and  now  the 
work  becomes  an  extension  of  the  painter,  because  he  wants 
to  work  with  movement.   Then  I  would  have  dance  students. 
Kathy  Rose,  for  instance,  was  a  dance  student  before,  and 
her  interest  came  from  the  dance  world.   But  they're  all 
interested  in  film  and  what  they  can  put  on  film,  but  not 
in  the  way  that  people  have  been  conditioned  when  you 
mention  animation. 
WESCHLER:   Some  general  questions  about  the  program  before 


we  get  into  specific  students  or  specific  stories:   First 
of  all,  just  generally,  how  large  is  it?   Are  you  the  only 
professor  in  it,  or  are  there  other  professors? 
ENGEL:   No,  in  my  terrain  I  am  the  only  one.   I  do  have  one 
person  come  in  on  Mondays  for  one  day  [Jack  Hannah] .   He  will 
work  with  the  talents  that  are  more  apt  to  be  involved 
with  character  animation,  again  because  his  background 
would  help  them.   But  I'm  the  only  one,  and  I  have  forty- 
five  full-time  students  with  me,  and  my  approach  is  to 
work  with  them  as  one  to  one.   I  don't  have  classes,  but  I 
do  have  seven-days-a-week  and  twenty-f our-hours-a-day  open 
studio,  because  the  best  experience  is  doing  this  work. 
You  can  have  all  the  theory,  all  the  logic,  all  the 
dialogue,  but  if  you  don't  get  to  that  board  and  you  don't 
really  do  it,  nothing  happens. 

I  mentioned  earlier  that  the  talent  today  that  come 
to  me  are  different.   I  used  to  refer  to  the  studios  as 
drawing-board-oriented,  but  these  people  are  not  really 
drawing-board-oriented.   They  come  in  and  they  ask  you  if 
you  have  Oxberry;  they  ask  you  if  you  have  an  optical 
printer.   Now,  that  never  happened  before.   No  studio,  no 
matter  who  the  talent  was,  no  matter  how  big  a  talent  he  is 
as  an  animator,  he  cannot  go  in  to  a  camera  room  and  shoot 
anything.   These  people  almost  start  at  the  other  end:   They 
know  the  camera  inside  out  and  upside  down;  they  know  what 


it  gives  them  and  what  they  don't  have  to  do  because  the 
camera  will  do  it  for  them.   So  the  type  of  talent  that  comes 
in,  you  see,  it's  different.   Some  might  never  get  to  the 
drawing  board  because  they  work  under  the  camera,  you  see: 
Whatever  they  do,  it's  under  the  camera,  not  necessarily 
at  the  drawing  board. 

Also,  these  people  are  not  afraid  to  say,  "I  am  going 
to  see  Martha  Graham  tomorrow,"  or  "I'm  going  to  see 
Merce  Cunningham."   They  talk  about  it.   Years  ago  if  I 
said  that  I  went  to  see  Martha  Graham  at  the  studios,  they 
would  have  said,  "What  the  hell  is  that?"   So  this  is  a 
large  change  in  the  character  of  these  talents  that  I 

Also,  what's  important  here,  these  are  not  necessarily 
the  people  that  fit  into  small  grooves;  I  know  one  very 
fine  talent  of  mine  who  said,  "I  don't  want  to  be  known 
as  an  animator;  I  want  to  be  known  as  a  filmmaker."   I 
used  that  word  filmmaker  some  time  ago  at  a  studio,  and 
I  remember  when  I  left  he  asked  another  animator  what  Jules 
means,  what  he  means  by  filmmaker.   Because,  see,  I 
didn't  categorize  him  as  a  layout  man  or  animator  or 
assistant  animator  or  story  man — I  used  the  word  filmmaker. 
That  means  he  does  the  whole  thing.   And  he  didn't  know 
what  it  meant,  see.   So  these  people  want  to  be  known  as 
filmmakers . 


And  as  I  say,  they're  not  afraid  to  go  to  a  dance 
concert  and  talk  about  it,  or  to  go  to  an  exhibit,  or  to 
go  and  hear  a  concert.   See,  years  ago  I  would  have  been 
called  an  egghead,  a  queer,  a  weirdy,  an  intellectual  snob, 
all  that  sort  of  thing,  if  I  talked  about  that.   But  that's 
the  change  of  the  young  talent  today. 

WESCHLER:   It's  also  one  of  the  wonderful  things  about 
Cal  Arts,  that  it  does  give  a  place  where  people  can  be 
themselves  in  a  way  they  couldn't  have  had  a  place  before. 
Why  don't  you  talk  about  some  specifics? 
ENGEL:   Oh,  that's  Irene  coming  down  the  steps.   [tape 
recorder  turned  off] 

WESCHLER:   Okay.   Returning  to  talking  about  Cal  Arts, 
generally,  one  of  the  things  that's  interesting  about  Cal 
Arts  in  the  context  of  our  discussion  is  that  it  was  in 
effect   founded  by  Disney.   In  particular,  I  suspect 
Disney  interests  on  the  board  of  trustees  and  so  forth 
were  particularly  interested  in  generating  an  animation 
department  that  would  have  fit  what  they  thought  was 
animation.   Have  you  had  static  from  Disney  interests  on 
the  kind  of  animation  that  does  take  place  at  Cal  Arts? 
ENGEL:   When  the  Disney  [people]  put  the  money  up,  they 
had  two  men,  Robert  Corrigan  and  Herb  Blau,  and  they  had  the 
total  rights  to  choose,  pick,  and  do  as  they  damn  well 
pleased  to  put  the  staff  of  Cal  Arts  together.   Now,  when 


I  was  hired,  I  was  recommended  by  Anais  Nin.   In  fact, 
she  took  me  over  to  Herb  Blau  and  introduced  me  to  Herb 
Blau  as  a  possible  talent  for  the  film  department.   Herb 
was  very  nice,  and  they  saw  the  films  I  had;  and  then 
Sandy  [Alexander]  MacKendrick  who  was  then  already  there 
picked  as  the  dean  for  the  film  school  saw  my  film;  and 
they  said,  "Okay."   What  they  were  looking  for  at  that  time 
was  a  person  who  had  a  larger  experience  than  just  an 
animator.   My  experience  was  because  I  came  to  them  as  a 
painter  who  had  been  exhibiting,  a  sculptor,  a  printmaker, 
a  designer,  a  graphic  designer,  and  I  had  films  both  in 
live-action  and  animation,  plus  all  the  years  of  experience 
I  had  at  the  studios,  and  also  a  quality  of  taste  that  they 
saw  in  the  work.   So  on  that  terrain  they  hired  me.   Now 
the  Disney  people  accepted,  but  they  anticipated  an 
animation  studio  that  would  furnish  them  with  new  talents. 
However,  that  was  not  in  my  head  to  do  that,  nor  in  the 
head  of  Herb  Blau  or  of  Corrigan  at  that  time.   So  problems 
came  big  and  heavy  from  other  talents  from  the  industry  who 
all  of  a  sudden  looked  upon  us  and  said,  "What  the  hell  is 
he  doing  in  a  job  like  that?"   And  of  course  then  came  the 
bigger  explosion  from  the  Disney  studio.   I  had  big  meetings 
with  them:   they  had  me  at  the  other  end  of  the  table,  and 
they  were  discussing  my  presence  and  what  I  do  with  the 
talent  and  how  I  prepare  them  for  the  Disney  needs. 


WESCHLER:   Who  is  the  they  in  this  situation? 
ENGEL:   Well,  at  one  time  I  had  at  the  table  Frank  Thomas, 
Ward  Kimball,  Mark  Davis,  Milt  Milcall,  Willie  Ryderman, 
and  some  people  I  don't  remember,  oh,  Layat  from  Story. 
The  questions  came  at  me  like  arrows,  and  I  had  to  answer 
them.   And  then  other  people — I  don't  want  to  mention  names-- 
from  the  industry  in  town  were  almost  jealous  that  I  had 
that  job.   But  they  didn't  understand  what  the  thinking 
of  the  school  was,  the  philosophy. 

What  happened,  and  what  changed  the  whole  situation, 
was  that  after  the  second  year,  while  the  school  was  in 
motion  and  everything  was  still  rumbling,  I  was  beginning 
to  produce  or  get  product  or  films  from  the  talent,  from 
my  talent,  that  gave  us,  immediately,  international  recog- 
nition.  And  by  the  third  year  we  were  sweeping  every  award 
that  there  was,  student  awards  all  over  the  world.   In  fact, 
I  would  say  that  by  the  end  of  the  year  we  established  the 
Cal  Arts  animation-film  graphics  department  as  the  most 
important  new  unit  that  was  producing  films  of  this  caliber 
and  of  this  consequence.   When  that  happened — and  it 
happened  big  and  fast — well,  all  of  a  sudden  the  Disney 
people  said,  "Well,  wait  a  minute.   The  only  person  who's 
getting  recognition  for  Cal  Arts  is  Jules  Engel!"   I  mean, 
I  was  all  over  the  paper  pages,  newspapers,  all  over.   I 
was  getting  Cal  Arts  incredible  presence.   No  one  [else] 


was  doing  that.   So  that  slowed  them  down,  and  they  came 
to  a  conclusion,  finally,  which  happened  two  years  ago, 
that  they're  going  to  leave  me  alone  and  they're  going  to 
set  up  a  unit — completely  separate  from  Cal  Arts  practically, 
although  it's  in  the  building — sponsored  by  Disney  (again, 
Disney  money  aside  from  the  original  budget) ;  and  they 
now  have  what  I  call  a  trade  school  to  fit  their  need, 
[phone  rings;  tape  recorder  turned  off] 

WESCHLER:   You  were  just  talking  about  how  they  have  a  trade 
school  of  their  own  now. 

ENGEL:   I  consider  it  a  trade  school  because  there  it's 
something  where  they  teach  the  talent--  No,  no,  I  think 
this  time  I'm  gonna  use  the  word  student.   They  teach 
the  student  how  to  do.   Now,  when  you  teach  a  student  how 
to  do  things,  it  becomes  a  how- to-do  school.   That  also 
means  that  the  student  never  has  a  chance  to  reveal  him- 
self because  he's  already  following  in  the  footsteps  of 
whatever  the  father,  grandfather,  or  the  grandmother  did 
well-   In  other  words,  they  are  being  fed  printed,  digested, 
worked-over  kind  of  material.   But  it  suits  their  needs, 
and  they're  happy  because  now  Cal  Arts  has  a  place  where 
they  can  train  for  their  need.   Meanwhile,  they  give  me 
complete  freedom  because  my  talents  are  now  really  known 
for  this  department,  and  they  come  in  to  me  from  all  over 
the  world. 


WESCHLER:   Do  any  of  the  students  from  the  trade  school — 
what  we'll  call  "the  trade  school" — migrate  over  to  your 

ENGEL:   Now,  that's  very  interesting,  because  that  happens. 
In  fact,  this  year  I  think  I  have  five  of  them  coming  over 
into  my  program;  they're  quitting  the  Disney  program.   That 
only  happened  to  me  once,  when  one  of  my  students — he  was 
so  unhappy  with  me  because  he  said,  "Everybody's  an  artist 
around  here  and  everybody  has  ideas."   It  didn't  fit  his 
personality.   He  was  a  student:   he  wanted  to  be  put  in 
the  first  or  second  or  third  row,  and  you  had  to  tell  him, 
"We're  going  to  do  this  today  and  we're  going  to  do  that 
tomorrow."   Also,  some  of  these  people  are  so  taken  with 
the  environment  like  a  Disney  environment  or  a  Warner 
Brothers  or  a  Paramount  that  they  want  to  be  part  of  that 
so  they  can  say,  "Yeah,  I  belong."   So  I  had  one  in  eight 
years  that  I  actually  recommended  to  move  over. 
WESCHLER:   Do  you  work  in  concert  with  the  people  in  the 
trade  school?   Are  you  friends  with  the  people  who  are 
teaching  there?   Or  are  they  completely  separate? 
ENGEL:   As  far  as  myself  is  concerned,  I  am  friends,  we 
are  friends.   But  the  students  there,  they  really  separate 
themselves.   Also  there  is  this  feeling  of  "They  don't 
know  what  the  hell  we're  doing";  and  again,  "This  is  art 
or  something;  it  doesn't  take  any  talent" — as  they  would 


refer  to  it.   It's  again  that  same  head  that  is  in  the 
studios;  they  are  already  what  I  call  anti-art.   They're 
already  that,  and  they  all  seem  to  be  cut  out  of  little 
square  boxes.   They  almost  look  like  students;  they  behave 
like  students.   Whereas  my  talents,  they  are  more  individual; 
they  are  more  each  on  his  own  or  her  own.   They're  more 
outgoing,  and  they  are  more  the  heads.   You  see,  I  have 
forty-five  students:   that's  forty-five  heads.   Each  head 
is  different.   The  Disney  people  have  fifty  of  them,  but 
it's  one  head,  one  head,  because  what  you  tell  this  one, 
it  goes  into  all  the  others.   I  cannot  do  that,  because 
my  talents  wouldn't  allow  that.   Each  one  is  so  different 
that  I  have  to  know  each  person  individually,  know  where 
they're  going,  where  they  want  to  go,  know  where  they're 
at.   That's  another  thing:   to  know  where  the  talent  is, 
where  he's  at,  and  work  with  that.   Don't  push  him,  don't 
shove  him,  but  go  with  that  as  his  or  her  rhythm  will  allow. 
Because  different  people  have  different  needs,  they  have 
different  rhythms,  they  have  different  desires,  and  you 
can't  put  them  in  a  box.   So  I  gotta  know  each  person  from 
the  very  beginning,  know  what  they're  doing. 

And  also  I  let  them  play.   I  think  they  should  play. 
Especially  if  they're  gonna  be  there  four  years,  the  first 
year  I  almost  let  them  loose.   That  is,  let's  say,  there  is 
basic  instruction,  but  even  if  a  talent  doesn't  pay  attention 


to  it  and  wants  to  do  something  else,  I  let  him  do  something 
else,  because  I  think  that  aspect  of  just  playing  and 
finding  out  and  having  fun,  having  kind  of  joy,  I  think 
it's  very  important,  it's  very  healthy.   And  besides,  what's 
the  rush?   I  mean,  where  are  you  going?   Your  lifespan 
is  twenty-five  years  longer  today  than  it  was  thirty  or 
forty  years  ago,  so  you're  going  to  get  there  anyway,  you 
know.   So  I  believe  in  this  playing  and  not  restricting 
the  beginner. 

WESCHLER:   Speaking  generally,  then  what  happens  after 
the  first  year  of  playing? 

ENGEL:   Generally,  by  that  time  I  also  begin  to  really 
see  what's  in  this  person,  'cause  I  have  a  lot  of  dialogue 
with  each  person.   So  then  I  begin  to,  let's  say,  push 
a  little  harder,  or  now  I  begin  to  set  up  a  direction, 
because  now  I'm  beginning  to  find  out.   But  also,  it's 
possible  that  after  that  year  that  person  will  say,  "It's 
not  for  me,"  which  happens,  because  a  person  finds  now  that 
it's  much  more  difficult,  it's  much  more  tedious,  it  takes 
a  lot  more  than  he  realized  animation  is  all  about.   So, 
let  the  person  find  out.   It's  important  for  me  to  find  out 
that  this  person  either  means  business  or  after  a  year  he 
finds  out  "It's  not  for  me" — and  that's  also  natural. 
I  also  point  this  out  to  them  at  the  beginning:   "If  you 
don't  feel  like  continuing  this  medium,  that's  perfectly 


all  right  with  me.   Don't  feel  unpleasant  about  it.   Just 
let  me  know  when  you're  ready."   But  then  you  have  the  other 
talent  who  comes  in,  and  he  and  she  just  starts  from  the 
first  day.   Then,  of  course,  you  have  the  painters  with 
their  art  background.   We  have,  again,  a  talk.   I  might 
give  them  some  very  basic  introduction  to  animation,  very 
basic.   But  then  the  minute  he  has  that,  he  already  wants 
to  move.   I  say,  "Move.   Move,  and  when  you  need  help, 

WESCHLER:   Do  you  get  more  rigorous  at  any  point  down  the 
line,  the  second  and  third  year? 

ENGEL:   No,  no,  I  never  get  that  way  unless  I  find  that 
a  talent  or  this  person  is  really  just  there  because  he 
has  no  other  place  to  go  or  he  finds  it  a  pleasant  environ- 
ment.  Then  I  might  get  very  heavy.   But  I  don't  find 
that,  because  these  people  who  are  coming  there,  they're 
already  coming  there  because  they  want  to  do  something. 
But  once  the  person  is  on  a  project,  because  he  or  she  wants 
to  do  this,  then  I  get  a  little  behind  it  in  a  way  of, 
"Okay,  let's  do  it" — in  other  words,  "let's  not  stop  in 
the  middle;  now  we're  going  to  go  through  with  this." 
It  happened  last  year  with  one  fellow:   he  told  me  at  the 
end  of  the  year,  he  says,  "Jules,  if  it  wasn't  for  you,  I 

would  have  never  finished  the  project."  Because  I  almost 
embarrassed  him  to  the  point  that  he  finished  the  product 


more  for  me  than  for  himself.   Now,  this  is  just  my  way 
of  doing  things . 

WESCHLER:   How  do  you  embarrass  someone? 

ENGEL:   Well,  by,  "Ooh,  Bob!   How  are  you  doing?   How  are 
you  doing?   Hey,  are  we  going  to  see  anything  next  week, 
huh?   We  should  see  something  by  the  week  later;  oh, 
there's  no  question  that  we  should  see  something  by  then. 
Okay,  next  Wednesday?   Okay."   So  comes  next  Wednesday, 
he  either  comes  in  or  [he  says,]  "I'm  not  quite  ready  but 
by  Friday  I  am  ready."   But  by  this  time  I  also  know  his 
character,  I  know  his  personality,  I  know  that  he  will  work 
that  way.   I  don't  care  how  he  works,  but  I  want  to  see 
that  thing  finished.   So  then  he  said  he  was  so  happy 
that  he  finished  this  piece,  and  he  knew  he  finished  it 
because  I  would  stop  him  in  the  hall — never  heavy,  just 
easy,  you  know,  almost  jovial.   He  was  happy  because  he'd 
finished  the  work;  he  was  happy  because  he  finished  it.   I 
think  this  is  the  only  thing  that  is  important:   Don't 
let  them  get  into  the  habit  of  not  finishing,  because  even 
if  it's  not  well  done,  it's  completed — and  by  completed, 
he  had  to  go  through  certain  phases,  he  learned.   So  you 
learn  during  the  process.   It  isn't  where  I  would  tell 
them  all  about  things,  how  to  do  this.   No,  no,  you  just 
go  into  it  and  when  you  get  to  the  point  where  you  don't 
know  what  to  do,  then  you  ask.   When  you  ask  then,  you'll 


never  forget  it,  you  never  forget  it,  you  see. 

But  again —  You  see,  there  is  Dennis  Pies.   Now,  he 
was  a  painter,  and  he  did  four  films  in  two  years,  and  he 
has  international  reputation.   Dennis  Pies  has  international 
reputation:   he  just  won  first  prize  at  Cing  e  Kreek;  he 
is  in  [Robert  Russett  and  Cecile  Starr's]  Experimental 
Animation,  the  book.   You  see,  again,  I  knew  him,  and  I 
knew  that  I  don't  have  to  push  with  Dennis.   He  would 
disappear  for  a  month  or  six  weeks--well,  I'd  see  him  in 
the  halls--but  then  he'd  say,  "Jules,  I  have  something  to 
show  you."   So  he'll  show  me,  we  go  over  that  stuff.   I 
might  make  recommendation,  let's  say,  it's  too  long,  it's 
too  short,  add  to  it,  go  on,  build  on  with  this,  this  is 
a  good  point,  make  it  important,  make  this  the  heart  of 
the  film.   Then  he  disappears  for  another  six  weeks;  and 
then  he  comes  back.   And  I  say,  "Now  let's  look  at  it." 
But  then  I  know  him:   I  don't  have  to  worry  about  him. 

I  keep  an  eye  on  everybody,  and  I  know  where  they're 
at.   And  I  work  with  them  where  they're  at. 


DECEMBER  22,  1977 

WESCHLER:   A  couple  of  questions  just  generally  about  the 
environment  there:   Do  the  students  work  with  each  other 
as  well? 

ENGEL:   The  students  will  work  with  each  other  from  a  point 
of  view  of  helping  the  other  one  out  in  a  certain  area,  but 
not  necessarily  where  they  would  be  working  two  or  three 
on  one  film.   Almost  all  my  talents  are  one-man/one-film. 
But  he  might  need  somebody  to  help  him  in  camera  so  he 
can  go  maybe  a  little  faster,  and  then  the  person  will 
come  in.   Let's  say  he  does  something  on  cell  work  that 
needs  to  be  painted;  he'll  ask  people  to  help.   I  create 
a  very  good  ambience  in  the  room:   they  are  all  friends, 
they  help  each  other.   There  is  absolutely  no  competition, 
that  "I  make  better  films  than  you  do,"  or  "What  is  this 
thing  that  you're  doing,  that's  weird!" — no  such  thing. 
I  make  them  understand. 

WESCHLER:   How  do  you  do  that?   Because  that  does  become 
a  problem  in  other  schools  where  students  become  competitive, 
ENGEL:   I  have  absolutely  never  had  that  problem,  but 
never.   And  this  is  going  into  the  eighth  year.   I  have  now 
about  forty-five  people;  and  some  come  in  during  the  year, 
so  they're  new;  and  they  sometimes  don't  even  speak  the 
language  as  well  as  the  other  because  one  chap  is  from 


Belgium,  and  another  one  from  Persia,  from  Yugoslavia. 
But  these  things  I  can't  really  answer.   It's  just  maybe  the 
way  I  am  put  together.   But  there's  absolutely  no  problem, 
no  competition,  and  they're  incredibly  helpful  to  each 
other.   Sometimes  a  talent  is  so  good,  for  instance,  on 
something  that's  mechanical,  or  technical,  really  technical, 
a  camera.   You  notice  very  soon  that  this  person's  very 
good  at  that.   So  I  just  send  Bob  to  Jane:   I  say,  "Ask 
her,  'cause  she  knows  a  hell  of  a  lot  about  this."   I  make 
them  know  each  other;  it's  very  important  that  they  get 
to  know  each  other.   I  would  say,  "Ask  John  Armstrong;  he's 
very  good  at  that  stuff."   So  you  see,  now  this  stranger 
goes  to  John  Armstrong,  and  the  next  thing  they're  sitting 
there  talking  and  they  know  each  other.   I  make  sure  that 
it's  mixed  well,  and  the  best  way  to  make  them  mix  well 
is  by  knowing  that  the  other  person  knows  things  that 
he'll  need,  and  even  I  would  recommend  him  or  her.   Now 
they  depend  on  each  other,  immediately. 

Also,  when  dailies  come  in,  I  always  call  in  every- 
body:  "We  got  a  piece  of  work  from  Niki  Kaftan,  dailies; 
come  and  look  at  it."   They  come  in,  look,  but  I  don't  ask 
for  them  to  be  critical.   That  I  don't  ask,  because  if 
they  want  to  talk  to  each  other  when  I'm  not  there  on  that 
level,  it's  okay.   I  don't  want  it  to  happen  in  front  of 
me,  because  I  don't  want  to  contradict  people  in  the  group. 


So  when  I  see  a  piece  of  new  dailies,  then  I  generally  say, 
"Okay,  Niki ,  you  wait."   Everybody  clears,  and  now  what  I 
have  to  say  about  her  film,  I'll  say  it  to  her,  and  then 
I  can  be,  let's  say,  as  critical  as  I  want  to  be.   But  I 
would  never  do  that  in  front  of  other  students,  never. 
The  only  thing  I  do  in  front  of  other  students  is  praise 
one--that  I'll  do.   But  I  will  never  be  critical  in  front 
of  another  student. 

WESCHLER:   How  critical  are  you  directly  to  a  person's 

ENGEL:   I  can  be  very  critical  but  not  to  the  point  where — 
In  other  words,  this  is  a  very  sensitive  area.   You  have 
to  be  very  aware  that  you  have  a  lot  more  experience  than 
this  chap  has,  or  this  young  girl  has,  a  lot  more.   So  it's 
very  important — for  instance,  when  she  or  he  comes  to  you 
and  says,  "I  have  a  great  idea,  it's  terrific,"  and  naturally 
this  idea  you've  done  twenty  years  ago — it's  very  important 
for  you  not  to  say  that  you  did  this.   That's  critical. 
Don't  say,  "I  did  this  twenty  years  ago,"  or,  "Oh  I  had 
an  idea  like  that  but  I  didn't  finish  it."   No,  you  say, 
"That's  great,  go  ahead." 

You  also  have  to  stop  at  a  certain  phase  of  being 
critical  because  there's  nothing  wrong  sometimes  for  a  very 
young  talent  to  fall  down.   If  she  or  he  insists,  I  say, 
"Okay,  you  go  ahead."   Because  I'd  rather  have  that  person 


go  through  that  experience  and  see  it  for  herself — it's 
not  working — than  have  me  stopping  her  and  she'll  never 
know.   And  that  happened  many  times.   Now,  I  had  a  fellow 
there  who  was  a  painter,  a  very  good  painter,  had  a  lot  of 
exhibits,  and  he  did  a  film.   It's  a  very  exquisite  film, 
incredibly  complicated.   But  there  was  an  area  in  motion 
where  two  shapes  are  crisscrossing.   He'd  already  gone  into 
the  work;  he  didn't  check  anything  out;  and  it's  not  really — 
it's  not  good.   Okay.   Now,  I  saw  the  film  finished — 
months  of  work.   He's  very  happy  about  it,  very  happy 
about  it.   I  don't  like  this  part,  but  if  I  criticize  him 
now,  [then]  I  don't  understand  his  feelings,  I  don't  under- 
stand his  moods,  you're  creating  a  generation  gap,  you  see. 
No.   The  film  has  done  extremely  well  for  him.   But  some 
time  later  he  showed  that  film  to  somebody,  and  he  came  to 
me  and  said,  "So-and-so  was  commenting  upon  it;  gee,  that 
was  a  very  good  comment  he  made".   I  said,  "Do  you  want 
me  to  tell  you  what  he  said?"   He  said,  yeah.   "He  said  to 
you  that  that  particular  shape  coming  over  across,  that 
particular  shape  is  not  working."   I  said  to  him,  "Now  listen 
to  me,  if  I  had  told  you  then,  what  would  you  have  done?" 
He  said,  "Nothing".   Now  it  was  very  honest  for  him  to  say 
that  if  I'd  said  to  him  then,  "Don't  do  that,"  he  would 
have  still  done  that,  you  see.   So  that's  where  you  have 
to  understand  where  you  stop  being  critical.   Because  if  they 


were  that  good,  they  wouldn't  be  there.   So  the  mistakes 
they  make,  frankly,  they  are  not  even  mistakes,  it's  just 
a  question  of  experience.   As  I  said  to  one  fellow,  "You 
don't  make  mistakes.   Later,  when  you're  professional, 
when  you're  good,  then  you  make  mistakes.   But  now,  there 
are  no  mistakes.   This  is  all  just  trial  and  error;  it's 
a  process,  and  you're  doing  it,  and  that's  no  problem. 
There's  no  mistakes". 

WESCHLER:   When  do  you  think  a  student — I  mean,  other 
than  just  say  at  the  end  of  four  years — when  does  a  student 
graduate  from  you?   How  does  a  student  know  he's  finished 
an  education  with  you? 

ENGEL :   Well,  there  are  several  terrains  there.   I  have 
to  know  whether  he  wants  to  get  a  job  in  a  commercial 
studio,  okay?   If  I  know  that,  then  I  make  sure,  whatever 
he  does  for  himself  or  herself,  that  if  he  walks  into  a 
studio,  he  can  also  do,  let's  say,  what  an  apprentice 
would,  a  beginner,  an  assistant  animator  or  an  in-betweener . 
So  those  qualities  this  person  will  know:   how  to  sit  at 
the  desk  and  start  as  an  apprentice  at  the  studio.   So  he 
has  a  running  start.   He  also  knows  camera  better  than 
anybody  at  the  studio  where  he's  gonna  work,  because  he 
does  all  his  shooting  himself,  he  does  all  his  negative 
cutting,  he  does  A-B  roll,  he  does  everything.   So  he  knows 
all  that.   But  that  doesn't  mean  you're  going  to  get  a 


job,  because  you  have  to  sit  at  the  desk  and  go  through 
a  certain  process  which  is,  let's  say,  in-betweening,  or 
assistant  animation,  or  animation,  okay?   I  make  sure  that 
he  can  sit  at  the  desk  and  do  in-between,  or  move  into 
assistant,  which  happens.   They've  all  been  working. 
They're  doing  work  right  now,  commercial  jobs  on  the  side. 
And  that's  good.   I  encourage  that.   I  encourage  that  a 
hundred  percent.   If  you  get  a  job,  take  it,  because  if  you 
do  a  one-minute  spot  for  a  commercial  studio  and  you  do 
all  the  work,  I  consider  that  as  work.   Because,  that's 
what's  it's  going  to  be  all  about,  isn't  it?   So  I  encourage 
all  of  that.   In  fact,  I  call  up  and  get  jobs  for  them. 
And  then  of  course  you  have  a  few  that  maybe  even  that  will 
be  difficult  for  them;  they  might  know  all  the  techniques, 
they  know  all  the  mechanics,  they  can  do  everything,  but 
they're  still  not  going  to  be,  really,  of  large  consequence. 
Then  you  have  the  other  half  who  do  not  want  to  go  to  the 
studios;  they're  not  studio-oriented.   They  are  the  painters 
like  the  Dennis  Pies.   Now,  there's  Kathy  Rose,  an  exquisite, 
also  internationally  known — like  Adam  Beckett  is  inter- 
nationally known.   These  people  are  not  student  artists. 
These  are  talent  today  who  are  changing  the  terrain.   She 
did  four  films  in  two  years. 
WESCHLER:   Kathy  Rose? 
ENGEL:   Kathy  Rose.   And  again  you're  dealing  with  a  talent 


that's  not  a  studio  talent.   Yet  she  works  with  character. 
She  puts  six  fingers  on  a  hand,  six!   In  studios  you  have 
three;  she  has  six  fingers.   Now,  it  would  have  been  easier 
for  me  to  say  to  Kathy,  "Maybe  four;  not  six."   But  I  don't 
do  that,  because  this  is  the  way  she  does  it.   She  works 
as  an  open  end:   she  starts  and  then  she  just  moves  on. 
There's  no  traditional  approach  to  it,  nothing.   But  in 
the  process  she  did  pick  up  all  those  other  things  that  you 
should  know  about,  you  see.   So  again,  you're  dealing  with 
this  character  who  is  not  studio-oriented.   She  has  no 
desire  to  go  in  a  studio--she 'd  rather  as  a  secretary — 
but  she's  gonna  make  her  films.   Dennis  Pies  today  is 
teaching  and  making  films. 
WESCHLER:   What  is  Kathy  Rose  doing? 

ENGEL :   Kathy  Rose  is  finishing  a  film  where  she  got  an 
AFI  [American  Film  Institute]  grant  of  $7,500;  Eric  Durst 
got  an  AFI  grant  of  $7,500.   So  these  are  not  studio- 
oriented  talent.   These  are  almost  the  cream  of  talent 
because  they  are  bringing  new  visions  to  the  film  medium 
as  an  art  form. 

So  this  sort  of  thing,  I  got  to  know  from  the  beginning, 
and  then  I  go  with  them,  where  they  are  going.   So  if  I 
know  it's  a  studio  direction,  he  wants  a  job,  then  I  make 
sure  that  he'll  know  what  he  has  to  know  to  go  in  there. 
But  that's  why  I  say  it's  one-to-one,  because  this  job 


doesn't  end  at  five  o'clock,  you  know.   It's  like  a 
coach:   when  you  work  with  a  team  of  athletes,  you  sit 
on  the  sideline  and  you  sweat,  too. 

The  only  thing  is  that  I  never  touch  their  work.   I 
never  touch  their  work.   And  I  don't  let  them  give  me  any 
credit.   Now  two  persons  did  in  eight  years:   somehow  they 
didn't  hear  me.   They  said,  "Special  thanks  to  Jules  Engel," 
or,  "Mentor,  Jules  Engel."   I  don't  want  them  to  do  that, 
and  I  tell  them  at  the  very  beginning  of  the  year,  because 
if  the  work  is  that  good,  they  don't  need  no  mentor's 
name  up  there,  or  anybody's  name.   It  also  brings  the  work 
down,  you  know,  because  I  don't  touch  their  work,  I  never 
touch  it.   I  talk  about  it,  I  look  at  it,  I  recommend  if 
they  ask,  you  know,  but  I  never  touch  anything.   And  I 
don't  want  them  ever  to  give  credit  to  their  instructors 
because  I  think  it's  not  fair.   You  don't  see  a  painting 
of  students  in  a  painting  school  that  is  signed,  "Joe 
Doe — thank  you,  Braque . "   [laughter]   You  don't  do  that,  so 
why  should  a  film  student  give  all  his  credits,  like  a 
kind  of  film  board,  with  everybody's  name  on  it.   It 
destroys  it;  it  brings  it  down.   How  do  I  know  that  this 
person  made  the  film?   So  this  is  just  again  one  of  those 
eccentricities  of  mine. 

WESCHLER:   Let's  talk  about  some  of  your  students  in 
specifics.   Why  don't  you  tell  us  stories  about  some  of  the 


more  important  students  or  yours? 

ENGEL:   Well,  Kathy  Rose.   Kathy  Rose  came  in,  and  she 
came  in  with  a  dance  background,  some  live-action  film, 
but  primarily  the  films  she  had  were  predicated  on  more  of  a 
dance  rhythm,  and  animation  is  what  she  wanted  to  do.   She 
saw  the  work  of  Yoji  Kuri,  the  Japanese  animator,  and  that 
became  her  God.   She  worked  straight  ahead,  in  other  words 
starting  with  the  drawing  and  letting  it  evolve  into  other 
circumstances.   i  had  to  be  very  careful  with  her,  because 
there  was  a  lot  there  as  a  person,  there  was  a  lot  there  as 
an  individual,  and  she  had  a  weird,  way-out  approach  to 
drawing.   She  had  nothing  to  do  with  a  classical  approach; 
it  was  very  personal,  almost  grotesque,  but  right  for  her. 
And  it  was  consistent,  it  was  utterly  consistent.   So  I 
let  her  work,  and  I  came  nearer:   we  talked.   At  the  very 
beginning,  you  see,  that  person  must  find  confidence  in 
you,  and  it's  very  easy  at  the  beginning  for  you  to  destroy 
confidence  by  an  attitude  of  you  know  everything  and  they  know 
from  nothing,  while  you've  done  everything,  you  know.   And 
that's  wrong.   In  fact,  I  think  some  of  the  not- to-do 
things  are  when  the  teacher  would  come  up  and  say,  "In  the 
old  days  we  used  to  do  that."   That's  a  horrible  thing.   Or 
he  used  to  say,  "When  I  was  your  age"  or,  "I  did  that 
years  ago."   These  are  just  a  few.   So  anyway  I  had  to 
watch  her,  watch  not  to  approach  her  on  any  of  these 


terrains.   And  pretty  soon  she  began  to  listen  and  maybe 
make  some  small  changes.   And  after  five  or  six  months 
went  by,  she  said  to  me  one  day,  "You  know,  Jules,  you  did 
something  that  I  wouldn't  even  let  my  father  do,  or  my 
brother."   And  that  was  very  interesting  for  her  to  say 
that.   She  said,  "No  one  is  ever  able  to  do  that."   In  other 
words,  that  I  make  her  change  just  a  little  bit  and  go 
certain  ways  which  made  her  work  easier  without  her  losing 
an  ounce  of  her  natural  talent.   She  said  that,  and  I 
thought  that  was  very  nice  for  her  to  say  that,  because 
this  is  a  strong  person.   Her  father  is  a  very  fine  photo- 
grapher in  New  York  and  is  in  all  the  magazines;  and  her 
brother  was  teaching  at  Pratt,  animation  and  things  like 
that.   But  again,  it's  that  touch,  you  know,  that  you  have, 
and  you  know.   And  she  turned  into  a  beautiful  filmmaker 
with  four  films,  and  she  has  won  the  Golden  Hugo  in  the 
Chicago  International.   She  recently  was  sole  juror  of  one 
of  the  very  big  animation  festivals.   In  fact  she  gave 
me  a  piece  of  paper  here,  and  I  would  say  that  since  she 
started,  today  she  has  won  around  thirty  awards — thirty 
awards!   And  she's  already  being  asked  to  jury  animation 
shows.   So  this  is  one  talent. 

And  then  you  have  a  man  like  Dennis  Pies,  who  came  in 
a  painter,  with  very  refined  work,  very  refined  painting, 
very  delicate  material.   I  had  no  idea  where  he  would  go, 


but  all  of  a  sudden  he  began  to  show  me  things,  because 
his  talent  to  pick  up  an  Oxberry  and  optical  printer  was 
so  fast.   He  came  in  from  Arizona,  and  he  said  to  me  one 
day,  "It's  marvelous,  marvelous,  because  I  see  so  many 
things  that  I've  never  seen;  I  didn't  know  such  things 
existed!"   Now,  see,  the  exposure  is  very  important  for 
some  of  these  people  to  see.   And  he  again  won  awards 
immediately,  and  he's  now  teaching  somewhere  near  San 
Francisco,  experimental  animation.   So  now  you  have  a 
combination  of  a  very  fine  painter,  a  very  fine  printmaker 
who  now  is  into  film,  and  he's  changing,  again,  the  terrain 
of  film. 

Another  man  was  Adam  Beckett.   Now  Adam  already  had 
fan  clubs  two  years  ago  with  his  films,  already  had  fan 
clubs  all  over.   Last  couple  of  years  he  spent  on  Star  Wars; 
he  was  doing  special  effects.   He  was  a  fanatic--not  at 
the  drawing  board  but  more  on  the  optical  printer.   The 
optical  printer  became  his  pencil.   And  he  does  things 
that  are  incredible  things,  what  you  see  on  the  screen, 
what  this  man  does. 

WESCHLER:   What  was  he  responsible  for  in  Star  Wars? 
ENGEL:   In  Star  Wars  he  was  hired  very  early  to  invent 
images  or  innovative  ideas.   Now  I  think  they  did  use  some 
of  it.   But  he  was  also  very  unhappy,  on  the  other  hand, 
'cause  a  lot  of  his  image  inventions  were  not  used,  because 


they  pulled  back  a  little  bit.   [George]  Lucas  pulled  back, 
and  it's  silly,  because  they  could  have  used  his  stuff  and 
it  would  have  been  even  bigger  as  far  as  the  visual-- 
WESCHLER:   Do  you  know  of  any  in  particular  that  were  left 

ENGEL:   A  lot  of  explosions  and  things  that  he  had  images 
for,  and  then  they  went  back  to  regular  explosions,  you  see. 
But  here  is  a  man  who,  really,  has  brought  new  ideas  and 
imagery  into  film;  I  mean,  he  just  opened  up  an  whole 
world  of  images.   He's  going  to  be  very  interesting  to 
follow,  because  he ' s  a  very  complicated  human  being.   He's 
very  unsettled  with  himself;  he's  unsettled  of  knowing 
which  way  to  go:   "Should  I  stay  in  the  commercial,  follow 
up  Star  Wars?"   The  other  problem  when  you  get  on  a  picture 
like  Star  Wars  and  you  see  a  two-hour  film  and  all  this 
excitement,  well,  all  of  a  sudden,  you  with  your  six  or  ten 
minutes  film  begin  to  feel  small,  insignificant.   So  now 
you  want  to  do  something  big,  and  that  can  be  very  destructive, 
So  there  is  a  fight  sometimes  in  a  person  like  this,  of 
where  to  go,  which  way  to  move,  because  "I  feel  small." 
I  can  point  out  paintings  by  Vermeer ,  or  Chardin,  you  know, 
I  show  little  things —  Look  at  Goya's  etchings,  I  mean 
these  are  masterpieces,  look  at  Cezanne's!   But  it's  very 
difficult  for  them  at  this  stage  to  buy  that  idea  that  it 
doesn't  have  to  be  an  hour  or  two-hour  film.   It's  also  a 


very  American  experience.   In  Europe  you  can  do  a  three- 
or  four-minute  film,  and  you  can  be  a  giant.   But,  you  see, 
when  you  live  in  Hollywood,  you're  nothing,  you're  nothing 
unless  you  make  a  feature  film.   I  think  it  gets  to  some 
of  these  people  if  they  get  into  that  field,  if  they  get 
too  close  to  it. 

WESCHLER:   Do  you  think  that  for  animators,  for  young 
animators,  it  would  be  better  to  get  out  of  Los  Angeles? 
ENGEL:   Well,  I  think —  See,  the  point  is  this,  Ren.   Kathy 
Rose  is  in  New  York;  Eric  Durst  was  in  Boston,  is  in  New 
York;  Dennis  Pies  is  in  San  Francisco;  Adam  Beckett  is  here. 
So  I  really  feel  that  some  of  it  has  to  come  from  you  as  a 
human  being.   I  am  there,  and  I  can  make  recommendations 
again.   I'll  say,  "Go  to  New  York."   But  some  of  it  has  to 
come  from  them.   You  can't  be  a  father.   It's  very  important 
when  they  finish  films  that  they  should  feel  everything  in 
that  film  is  theirs.   They  should  never  feel,  no  matter 
how  much  you  help,  they  should  never  feel  that  you  helped 
or  you  did  it,  never.   When  that  film  is  finished,  they 
should  have  a  feeling  it  was  theirs,  they  did  it,  so  that 
then  they  can  break  away  from  you.   I  make  efforts  in  that 
respect  that  they  should  not  feel  that  they  have  to  rely 
on  me  or  on  a  teacher. 

WESCHLER:   But  just  abstractly,  do  you  think  it  would  be 
better  for  them  not  to  be  in  Los  Angeles,  in  Hollywood? 


ENGEL:   I  think  for  some,  yes,  it  would  be  better.   I  think 

the  best  environment  for  them  would  be  New  York,  where 

they  have  access  to  the  museums  and  to  concerts  more 

than  they  have  out  here,  'cause  they  need  that.   I  can  only 

expose  them  to  a  certain  amount,  because  the  environment 

at  Cal  Arts  will  expose  them  to  a  certain  amount,  a  great 

deal  of  dancing,  because  it  takes  place  in  the  hall;  and 

there  are  exhibits.   Or  let's  say  I  might  show  films  of 

Leger  or  Man  Ray  or  Picabia.   Before  I  show  the  films,  I 

run  color  slides  of  these  people.   I  say,  "Here  is  Leger; 

now  here  is  his  paintings;  now  he  made  the  Ballet  Mecanique." 

I  don't  do  it  with  a  heavy  hand.   I  say,  "Let's  look  at 

this  stuff."   And  they  look  at  it.   Now,  what  I'm  doing, 

I'm  putting  this  in  front  of  them;  some  will  go  to  the 

library  and  will  get  a  book  on  Leger,  okay?   Or  the  other 

day,  there  was  this  young  girl  and  her  painting  was  not-- 

She  was  very  young  and  there  was  nothing  really  gelling.   I 

said,  "Oh,  you  know,  I  have  an  idea:   I  think  you  would  like 

Sonia  Delaunay,  because  I  see  you  have  such  a  wonderful 

color  terrain,  and  I  think  you'll  have  simpatico  with  her". 

So  I  go  and  I  check  the  book  out  from  the  library  and  give 

it  to  her,  a  big  thick  book  on  Sonia  Delaunay,  and  I  say, 

"Now  look  at  it.   There's  nothing  wrong,  you're  not  copying, 

but  learn  from  the  masters.   If  you're  gonna  learn  color,  you're 

not  going  to  be  an  interior  decorator,  you're  not  going  to 


do  textiles,  it's  got  to  come  from  your  gut.   So  the  best 

way  to  learn  it  is  looking  at  the  work  of  a  good  colorist; 

so  that's  in  a  Delaunay,  there's  Picasso,  there's  Braque, 

there's  Bonnard,  check  these  things."   See  what  I'm  doing 

now,  I  gently  bring  this  thing.   She  is  working  on  a  thing 

and  I  can  see  already  that  there  is  a  better  influence,  and 

it's  natural,  you  know.   You're  not  copying,  it's  a  natural 

influence,  and  that  influence  is  good,  and  you're  going  to 

come  to  yours  later.   So  this  is  the  way  I  bring  things 

to  them,  because  we  don't  have  a  Museum  of  Modern  Art  or 

a  Whitney  or  a  Metropolitan  where  you  could  tell  them,  "Hey, 

go  over  and  see  the  Cezanne  show."   Wouldn't  that  be  wonderful 

to  see  the  Cezanne  show?   We  can't  go,  you  know.   So  this 

is  another  approach. 

WESCHLER:   All  you  have  is  the  library. 

I  didn't  get  a  sense  of  Adam  Beckett  as  a  student 
when  you  were  talking  a  while  ago  about  him. 
ENGEL:   Adam  Beckett  was  a  very  difficult  student. 
WESCHLER:   How  so? 

ENGEL:   Well,  in  the  first  place  he  was  six  foot  three, 
weighed,  I  don't  know,  18  0  pounds,  had  a  good  body,  but 
huge,  huge,  big.   I  think  he  was  very,  let's  say,  selfish 
and  not  trusting.   I  think  he  had  the  idea  of  a  school 
environment,  that  maybe  I  was  going  to  come  in  with  heavy 
hands.   So  my  big  problem  was  again  to  make  him  feel  that  I 


am  with  him  and  not  against  him.   So  it  was  so  important 
at  the  beginning  when  he  did  a  lot  of  to  say,  "Adam,  this 
is  good,  this  is  good  stuff;  stay  with  it;  it's  good."   As 
time  went  on,  he  relaxed  with  me  and  he  was  more  comfortable 
in  the  environment.   He's  good. 

It's  interesting,  because  recently  we  were  on  a  panel 
together.   In  fact,  I  recommended  for  him  to  be  on  a  panel. 
People  had  to  talk  about  themselves,  their  background  and 
all  that,  and  I  was  the  chairman.   He  never  mentioned 
that  he  went  to  Cal  Arts.   Now,  I'm  at  the  other  end  of  the 
table,  and  I  wouldn't  mention  it  either,  because  I  did  not 
want  to  embarrass  him.   See,  I  was  so  aware  that  he  did 
not  say  Cal  Arts  and  that's  where  he  made  his  reputation 
from  that  place.   He  never  said  that.   I  was  aware,  but  I 
would  not  say  it,  because  I  realized  he  doesn't  want  to  be 
tied  to  any  place.   He's  out  there,  and  we'll  see  where 
he  goes  from  now. 

But  he  was  one  of  those  talents  that  was  very  difficult, 
because  he  had  so  much  going  for  him,  and  yet  he  lacked 
a  lot  of  taste,  taste-quality.   That  could  come  later; 
that  could  happen  later.   So,  you  see,  I  don't  want  to  make 
a  big  deal  out  of  it.   But  he'll  do  things.   Like  he  did 
this  one  thing  called  Flash  Flows,  which  is  very  good--it's 
incredible.   It's  a  piece  of  pornography,  but  it's  one  of 
the  most  well  photographed  films,  incredible  imagery  that 


he  evolves.   Then  he  did  another  one  that  again  he  goes 
into  that  terrain.   But  it's  very  bad,  because  the  damn 
thing  is  too  long  and  stuff  like  that.   I  can  tell  him, 
"Don't  do  that,  it's  too  goddamn  long,  it's  vulgar."   But 
I  let  him  go  because  all  these  things  that  are  not  quite 
right  now,  he'll  find  out  much  later.   All  I  would  do  now 
at  this  stage,  I  would  just  disorient  our  relationship 
and  create  a  kind  of  a  wedge.   It's  very  unnecessary  to 
create  that  because  talent  is  good,  and  what's  not  there 
today  will  be  there  tomorrow.   I  only  push  just  so  far,  and 
then  I  leave  it  alone,  because  it's  nothing  wrong  to  fall 
down.   There's  nothing  wrong  with  that. 

It's  silly  when  a  teacher--oh  I  hate  this  word, 
teacher- -when  a  mentor  begins  "Don't  do  that,  it's 
wrong."   Forget  it!   Forget  it.   I  mean,  you  have  so  much 
time  to  improve  and  make  changes.   It's  not  that  important; 
the  important  thing  is  the  process  and  the  important  thing 
is  to  see  a  continuity.   Like  some  of  these  people,  like 
Kathy  Rose  has  a  film  coming  back,  Dennis  Pies  has  a  film 
back,  Joyce  Borenstein  was  another  beautiful  talent  who 
has  a  film  coming  back.   It  means  they've  done  it  after 
they  left;  that  is  a  good  feeling,  that's  nice.   Because 
the  others  will  disappear  into  the  bowels  of  the  industry: 
you're  never  going  to  hear  of  them.   But  at  least  we  were 
able  to  put  them  on  their  feet.   A  lot  of  them  have  nice 


jobs.   A  lot  of  them  never  thought  they  could  do  anything, 
but  they're  working,  that's  an  accomplishment. 
WESCHLER:   Are  there  any  other  particular  students  who 
you'd  like  to  mention?   You  mentioned  Eric  Durst? 
ENGEL:   Eric  Durst,  I  mentioned,  and  Joyce  Borenstein, 
who  is  a  beautiful  student,  a  young  girl,  and  oh,  Paul 
DeMeier  from  Belgium,  who  won  the  Academy  Award,  the  $1,000 
grant  from  the  Academy.   Mark  Kirkland,  the  year  before 
won  the  $1,000  Academy  award.   Niki  Kaftan,  a  beautiful 
talent.   Rick  Blanchard,  a  very  fine  talent  who's  up  in 
San  Francisco,  going  to  have  a  show  up  at  Pacific  [Film] 
Archives.   These  few  at  the  moment  come  up. 

Oh!   John  Armstrong.   Here  is  an  interesting  situation: 
John  Armstrong  comes  in  with  a  piece  of  Barbie  doll,  a 
Barbie  doll  with  a  Texas  hat  on.   Well,  I  accepted  him,  but 
I  said,  "Jesus,  what's  going  to  happen  here?"   But  sometimes 
I  take  these  chances.   I  have  to,  you  know.   So  he  came  in 
with  that.   He  was  a  very  quiet  fellow,  and  he's  working 
around,  and  pretty  soon  I  see  him  lying,  putting  paper  all 
over  the  floor  on  one  end  of  the  room  ('cause  I  have  a 
huge  room).   He's  taking  paint  and  squeeqee-ing  it  onto  the 
cells  like  that,  and  he's  doing  all  kinds  of  stuff  like 
that.   He  did  a  beautiful  film,  first  film.   So  I  said  to 
him  after  a  couple  of  months,  I  said,  "John,  I  don't 
understand  you.   You  came  in  with  a  Barbie  doll;  what  are 


you  doing,  Jackson  Pollock?   How  come?"   He  said,  "Jules, 
I've  never  been  exposed  to  anything  like  this  in  all  my 
life."   Contemporary  art,  he's  never  seen  anything,  nothing. 
The  guy  is  incredible;  he's  been  doing  beautiful  stuff. 
But  this  new  material  he's  working  on,  it  should  be  just 
magic.   He  has  a  wonderful  head  for  technical,  for  camera, 
he  knows  more  about  camera  than  anybody  else  (again,  I 
say,  "Go  to  John  Armstrong;  he  can  help  you") .   His  simple 
answer  was,  "I  have  never  been  exposed  to  anything  like 
this."   See  how  important  that  is,  the  exposure.   So  I 
took  him  on  with  Barbie  dolls,  and  he's  turning  out  to  be 
something  very,  very  special.   This  is  again  that  terrain 
that  you  have  to  sometimes  go  beyond  just  what  you  see  in 
a  portfolio. 

WESCHLER:   How  do  you  accept  people  or  reject  them?   Do  they 
apply?   How  many  people  apply  in  ratio  to  how  many  are 
finally  accepted? 

ENGEL:   I  don't  know.   I  think  I  had  something  like  eighty 
applying,  and  I  accepted  maybe  twenty,  twenty-five.   Now, 
it's  possible —  There  was  a  fellow,  Steve  Holland,  who's 
a  cartoonist,  eighteen  years  old.   He  sent  his  stuff  in, 
and  I  didn't  like  it:   there  was  nothing  there.   But  then 
I  got  a  letter  from  him  this  long,  and  he's  writing  and 
drawing  cartoons  all  over  the  damned  place,  [claps  his 
hands]  and  then  he  writes  another  one.   I  say,  if  a  fellow 


wants  it  that  badly,  I  got  to  accept  him.   So  I  sent  a  note 
to  him,  you  know,  and  oh  God  his  parents  are  happy. 
He's  eighteen  years  old;  he's  a  cartoonist,  literally.   He's 
a  talented  cartoonist;  it's  natural;  you  can't  learn 
cartooning;  it's  either  there  or  it's  not  there.   I'm  not 
a  cartoonist;  I  couldn't  do  it.   Nice  fellow:   turned  out 
to  be  a  beautiful  human  being,  good  guy,  and  he's  doing 
nice  work.   He's  going  to  be  very  good.   There's  no  question 
that  in  the  industry  he'll  be  very  good.   And  you  see,  by 
exposing  him  to  all  the  other  things — yet  he's  working  on 
his  own  terrain  where  I  want  him  to  stay — his  sensibilities, 
his  head,  everything,  is  getting  better.   Whatever  he  does, 
it  will  be  better,  because  of  the  exposure.   But  the 
important  thing  is  he's  a  good  person,  a  lovely  person. 
We  needed  a  caricature  of  the  president  [of  the  Institute] . 
I  got  him  a  photo.   He  did  one,  and  I  didn't  quite  like  it; 
then  he  makes  another  one,  no  problem.   He  took  it  upstairs, 
and  they  saw  it  upstairs — the  president,  secretary  and  all 
that — and  they  didn't  like  it:   it  doesn't  look  like 
[Robert]  Fitzpatrick.   They  give  him  another  photo.   He 
goes  down,  he  does  another  drawing.   This  time  it  was 
beautiful.   He  went  back  three  times,  did  the  whole  damn 
thing  over,  and  now  the  portrait  drawing  and  the  caricature 
was  perfect.   Now,  you  see,  this  is  helping  him.   He  didn't 
say,  "No,"  or  "Don't  tell  me,  this  is  good."   But  now 


you've  helped  him,  because  on  several  levels  it  came  back 
to  him.   He  was  able  to  go  back  and  he  changed  it  every 
time.   That's  very  important. 

WESCHLER:   In  general,  what  are  the  criteria  that  you  use 
in  accepting  people? 

ENGEL:   Well,  when  they  apply,  if  the  drawings  are  there, 
that's  already  it.   If  they  send  the  film,  that's  already 
it.   If  it's  photograph  and  I  like  the  photograph —  Like 
Jody  Meier  has  photographs  that  she  sent,  good  photographs 
that  deal  with  dancers,  but  a  very  unique  kind  of  photo- 
graphy, not  just  a  photo.   I  like  the  quality  of  the 
thinking,  so  I  accept  that.   If  sometimes  a  person  wants 
to  talk  to  me,  and  there's  nothing  but  "I  want  to  do 
animation"--  If  I  talk  to  that  person  and  it's  a  question 
of  the  dialogue  and  I  get  something  from  that  person,  I'll 
accept  that  person. 

I  accepted  Darla  Sal,  who  was  twenty-seven  years  old — 
he  was  already  a  full  doctor  and  he  was  a  film  buff.   He 
wants  to  make  animated  films,  but  he's  already  in  live- 
action:   he's  gonna  do  a  live-action  film  which  he'll  do 
at  the  hospital.   He  sent  in  something;  it  wasn't  much,  but 
I  said  to  myself,  he's  twenty-seven,  he ' s  a  doctor  already; 
and  I  talked  to  him  (he  had  experience,  he  went  to  Yale 
drama  school  or  something);  so  I  accepted  him.   And  yet  it 
isn't  a  question  of  drawing,  'cause  he  doesn't  really  draw. 


But  he  did  a  film  using  a  figure  out  of  that  white  stuff, 
white  foam,  a  ball  in  a  womb  and  a  child  comes  out  of  that, 
begins  to  walk.   You  should  see  that  walk,  the  way  it  moves, 
because  he  knows  the  body:   it  stands  up,  starts  to  walk 
and  becomes  a  dancer,  and  then  from  a  dancer  he  gets  older 
and  older,  old  age,  crumpled,  and  back  into  this  ball.   I'm 
telling  you,  he's  never  touched  a  piece  of  film,  he's  never 
touched  anything!   If  I  show  it  to  you,  you  won't  believe 
it.   Now  you  see,  I  say  if  a  person  like  that  wants  to  do 
it,  why  not?   I  got  a  room,  I  have  a  big  enough  room.   He's 
a  doctor,  you  know;  he  can  pitch  in  at  the  school;  he 
helped  kids  with  their  health,  you  know.   He  was  practically 
on  call.   [laughter]   A  nice  person,  Darla  Sal.   I  accepted 

So,  see,  I  do  that.   That's  me,  you  see.   Another  person 
would  turn  a  lot  of  these  people  down,  and  that  would  be  a 
mistake,  because  there's  a  lot  of  wonderful  things  there 
which  doesn't  quite  show.   'Cause  I  had  that  experience 
in  the  professional  field:   At  UPA,  I  needed  somebody  to  do 
_background,  and  I  hired  a  girl  whose  portfolio  was  nowhere 
near  as  good  as  a  lot  of  the  others.   But  she  had  a  kind 
of  a  something.   She  not  only  became  one  of  the  best  back- 
ground artists:   she  is  today  one  of  the  best  layout  artists, 
the  best  story  artists.   She's  terrific.   So,  you  see, 
I  didn't  hire  her  on  the  portfolio,  'cause  on  the  portfolio 


I  would  not  hire  her.   It  was  simply  I'm  talking  to  her 
and  there's  something  that  takes  place, 

WESCHLER:   One  of  the  common  criticisms  that's  made  of 
Cal  Arts  is  that  it's  an  elitist  school  in  terms  of  the 
finances  and  the  people  who  can  afford  to  go  there.   Are 
there  scholarships  available? 

ENGEL:   Oh,  there  are  a  lot  of  scholarships,  oh  yes, 
there  are  scholarships  all  over.   Of  course,  some  of  the 
people  can  afford,  like  they  would  go  to  any  other  school  if 
they  can  afford.   But  there  are  a  lot  of  scholarships. 
WESCHLER:   You've  never  had  to  reject  someone  who  otherwise 
you  would  have  wanted  to  accept? 

ENGEL:   No,   But  it's  easier  for  me.   If  I  see  somebody — 
About  four  years  ago  there  was  a  storyboard  I  saw,  the 
cartoony  kind;  and  I  saw  that  the  chap  was  about  eighteen 
years  old.   I  thought,  "Eighteen  years  old — that's  incredible, 
this  is  wonderful  stuff!"   All  the  scholarships  were  gone, 
so  I  saw  Bill  Lund — I  think  Bill  Lund  was  the  president 
then,  that  was  that  rough  time — I  got  to  him  and  I  told  him 
that  this  chap  is  eighteen  years  old,  that's  an  incredible 
storyboard.   He  went  out,  and  he  got  money  from  a  friend  of 
his  or  somebody.   The  fellow  came  in--now  I  never  met  the 
guy — turned  out  to  be  a  black  boy,  six-foot-two,  you  know. 
And  he's  working  now — I  think  he's  working  at  Hanna 
Barbera  [Productions].   But  I  didn't  know  who  he  was,   I 


got  him  a  scholarship,  and  so  that's  it. 

I  have  not  had  any  bad  incidents.   The  only  bad 
incident  is  when  somebody  comes  in  and  really  after  a  year 
or  so  nothing  happens,  and  then  they  go  out  with  their 
portfolio  to  studios  and  say,  "I'm  a  Cal  Arts  student," 
and  it's  dreadful.   I  mean,  that's  the  bad  part  of  it,  because 
it  happens,  and  it  can  give  you  a  very  bad  reputation.   They 
say,  "What  the  hell  are  they  doing?"   But  luckily  I  had  some 
wonderful  people  going  in  the  same  direction  a  year  later, 
I  mean  such  talents  that  they  just  drooled  over  them,  so 
that  they  realized  that  this  guy  was,  you  know — 
WESCHLER:   Was  the  exception. 

ENGEL:   Was  something  very,  very  weird.   I'd  accepted  him, 
but  after  a  while  I  realized  that  the  film  that  he  showed 
me  was  not  his,  wasn't  his  film.   Because  when  he  had  to  do 
what  I  call  in-betweening,  which  is  the  simplest  thing,  and 
I  saw  the  drawings,  I  said,  "No,  if  he  can't  do  that,  then 
the  film  I  saw  wasn't  his."   You  know,  as  simple  as  that. 
So  that  happens. 

WESCHLER:   One  other  thing  that's  been  really  interesting 
to  me  in  terms  of  just  looking  at  lists  of  your  students 
is  the  number  of  women. 

ENGEL:   Oh!   That's  good;  that's  a  good  question. 
WESCHLER:   Were  there  many  women  in  animation  at  first, 
and  has  that  changed? 


ENGEL:   What's  happening — that's  a  good  question — what's 
happening  in  animation  is  that  the  girls  are  discovering 
animation.   Let's  say  twenty-five  years  ago,  it  would  have 
been  impossible  to  find  maybe  two  girls  in  the  industry. 
But  they  are  discovering  animation  as  a  medium  for  themselves. 
So  when  I  mention  like  Kathy  Rose  and  Joyce  Borenstein, 
Elizabeth  Bechtold,  right  now  like  Niki  Kaftan  and  Jane 
Kirkwood — I'm  trying  to  think  of  one  name  that's  very 
good,  she's  been  working  with  Bakshi-- 
WESCHLER:   We  can  fill  that  in  later  on. 
ENGEL:   And  Elizabeth — there's  another  Elizabeth — and 
Karen,  there's  Ellen  right  now.   There  are  I  would  say  about 
a  good  forty  to  forty-five  percent  girls  coming  in.   The 
medium  is  being  discovered  by  them.   In  other  words,  all 
they  need  is  a  little  table  at  home  and  they  can  make 
films  on  their  own  and  they  don't  need  anybody  to  help 
them.   In  fact,  one  of  the  best  talents  today,  I  think,  in 
America  is  Caroline  Leaf  from  Boston;  she  did  three  films 
at  the  [National]  Film  Board  [of  Canada] ;  one  is  called 
The  Street,  the  latest  is  Kafka's  Metamorphosis  [of  Mr. 
Samsa] .   I  think  she's  probably  the  most  important  talent 
in  the  field  of  the  narrative  filmmaking,  and  the  best 
credit  is  what  you  see  up  there,  these  two  films,  beautiful. 
It  is  something,  I  think,  that  they  can  work  at  it  and  walk 
away  from  it.   You  know,  a  man  has  a  problem,  because  a 


man's  job  is  almost  always  in  a  straight  line:   You  go  to 
work  in  the  morning,  you  come  home  and  sit  down.   But  a 
woman,  you  know,  is  busy;  she  has  the  housework,  she  has 
to  go  out,  she  has  to  answer  the  phone,  she  has  to  pick 
up  the  children.   You  see  how  many  little  things  she  is 
involved  in;  meanwhile,  she  can  sit  at  the  animation 
board.   But  you,  as  a  man,  would  find  it  very  difficult, 
because  you're  much  more  oriented  to  a  routine  which  is 
straight.   Now,  that  might  be  a  silly  approach,  but  I 
think  there's  something  in  it.   So  that  they  can  work  at 
home,  or  anyplace,  and  don't  need  a  studio.   You  can  have 
a  little  set-up  that  you  can  fold  like  a  book,  [claps 
hands]  you  can  fold  it,  open  it.   But  also  I  think  they  have 
more  patience,  in  a  way,  and  they're  not  so  much  interested 
as  I  find  in  getting  to  studios.   It's  more  as  something 
that  they  want  to  do .   It's  not  always,  "I  want  to  be  a 
big  animator."   It's  something  they  just  want  to  do.   And 
they're  incredibly  dedicated  to  the  medium,  to  the  art. 
WESCHLER:   You  seem  to  work  well  with  them.   You're  very 

ENGEL:   Oh  yes,  yes,  because  I  think  it's  very  important, 
because  they  bring  a  whole  new  terrain  or  experience  into 
the  medium,  it's  just  another  texture,  it's  another  world. 
Oh,  Brenda  Benkes !   I  must  mention  that  name,  because  she's 
been  working  with  Bakshi,  and  she  does  a  lot  of —  She's  a 


freelance  animator  and  a  beautiful  talent,  beautiful.   But 
she  works  more  in  the  classical  approach  to  animation, 
fluid,  very  fluid  movement  in  her  drawings,   I  was  going 
to  mention  it  earlier.   But  this  whole  new  world,  the  women, 
are  coming  into  the  medium. 

WESCHLER:   Are  they  encountering  resistances?   Are  the 
studios  still  relatively  sexist? 

ENGEL:   I  think  they  still  are  because  this  whole  industry 
is  so  male-oriented.   But  then  you  have  Tisa  David  in  New 
York  who —  She  did  all  the  animation  for  John  Hubley's  films, 
so  that's  a  real  breakthrough,  because  she  actually  did 
all  the  animation  back  there.   I  think  once  they  make  the 
scene — they  have  to  put  themselves  on  the  scene  maybe  a 
little  more  than  a  man — the  studio  will  hire  them.   We  always 
had  very  good  talent  in  the  field,  but  they  were  always 
either  in  storyboarding  or  character  designing.   So  you  had 
women  in  that  field,  but  not  so  much  in  animation  and  not 
so  much  as  a  total  filmmaker  as  they  are  now  turning  out 
to  be  total  filmmakers.   It's  interesting,  because  for  the 
male  members  of  the  industry,  sometimes  it's  very  difficult 
to  take  that,  because  they're  still  just  animators  but  here's 
Kathy  Rose,  and  she's  a  total  filmmaker.   She  can  show  you 
half  a  dozen  of  her  films,  you  know,  and  there's  the  whole 
damn  thing.   But  I  do  encourage  that  aspect  of  it.   Also  it 
makes  it  much  more  interesting,  much  more  interesting. 


And  this  year  I  have  several  very  strong  talents,  girls. 
But  it's  a  difficult  thing.   Animation  is  physically  very 
difficult  if  you  really  have  to  bear  down  on  it  eight  to 
ten  hours  a  day.   It  takes  a  lot  out  of  you  physically. 
WESCHLER:   One  last  question,  because  we're  coming  to  the 
end  of  the  tape,  the  end  of  our  session  today.   We've 
talked  a  lot  about  you  as  a  teacher:   How  are  you  as  a 
learner  from  your  students?   Do  you  find  your  students — 
ENGEL:   Oh,  really,  I  don't  see  that.   The  only  thing 
I  see  that —  I  work  continuously,  as  I  always  do.   In  other 
words,  I  work  on  my  painting,  I  do  my  lithography,  and  I 
work  on  my  films.   And  if  there  is  an  influence —  Maybe 
there  is,  maybe  I'm  not  aware.   But  the  important  thing  is 
that  I  am  in  motion,  and  that's  very  important  for  them 
to  see,  that  you  are  also  a  filmmaker. 


DECEMBER  30,  1977 

WESCHLER:   Last  week,  Jules,  you  showed  me  some  of  your 
live-action  films,  and  it  was  very  enjoyable  to  see  them. 
I  thought  today  we'd  talk  a  little  bit  about  live-action 
films.   For  starters,  you  might  talk  about  the  chain  of 
events  that  led  to  your  doing  live-action  film  at  all. 
ENGEL:   Well,  I  think  it's  almost  a  natural  event  that 
when  you  work  on  films  like  I  myself  worked  on  animation, 
that  somehow,  sometime,  you  will  get  into  live-action. 
Not  that  you  were  going  that  way,  but  I  think  it's  almost 
more  like  as  if  it's  coming  your  way.   And  that  really 
happened  in  a  way,  because  on  one  of  my  trips  to  New  York, 
they  were  thinking,  Martha  Jackson,  who  is  the  owner  of 
Martha  Jackson  Gallery — she  of  course  died  some  years 
ago — she  had  an  idea  of  doing  a  film  on  Paul  Jenkins. 
They  just  thought  that  because  of  my  background  as  a 
painter,  as  an  artist,  a  designer,  and  my  films  through 
UPA,  that  they  knew  of  me  and  that  I  would  be  a  natural 
talent  to  do  something  with  film  that  predicated  itself 
on  a  painter.   So  in  that  sense  the  event  was  a  natural 
continuity,  a  natural  flow.   I  didn't  have  to  go  out  of  my 
way  to  look  for  anything.   It  just  came  my  way.   The  project 
was  right  because  I  was  dealing  with  a  painter  whose  work 
was  in  motion  while  he  was  working.   So  it  was  a  natural 


texture  for  me  to  work  with,  because  I  had  been  working 
with  movement,  so  capturing  characteristics  of  a  painter 
like  Paul  Jenkins  was  a  very  comfortable  experience  for  me. 
The  important  thing  for  me  was  that  I  should  not  inject 
any  other  image  into  the  film:   by  that  I  mean  not  inject 
cross-dissolves  or  overlaps  of  imagery,  because  if  I  had 
done  that,  I  would  have  then  put  another  image  into  the 
film  that  the  painter  had  nothing  to  do  with.   I  would 
therefore  completely  destroy  his  art,  because  if  I  had  two 
images  overlapping  and  I  had  long  exposures,  then  I  am 
bringing  in  another  type  of  image  that  he  never  had  on  his 
canvas.   So  I  had  to  be  very  careful.   On  this,  of  course, 
I'm  very  keen:   I  almost  take  it  as  a  dogmatic  approach, 
because  I  have  seen  many  art  films  of  painters  where  the 
filmmaker  was  putting  images  into  the  film  that  you  would 
never  find  on  a  canvas.   So  I  predicated  this  film  on 
straight  editing,  never  mixing  anything  else  into  the 
content,  the  image  content  of  this  film.   But  at  the  same 
time  and  even  with  the  editing,  the  picture  must  have  a 
flow,  like  his  work  has  a  flow.   And  I  think  that  was  done: 
the  picture  has  rhythm,  it  moves,  and  it  captures  Jenkins 
at  work.   I  was  not  trying  to  do  a  documentary,  because 
that's  not  my  bag;  I'm  not  made  that  way.   What  I  wanted  to 
do  here  was  like  a  piece  of  poetry,  to  just  take  you  near 
or  in  the  environment  of  the  painter.   If  you  like  it  there. 


then  I  would  assume  that  you  will,  on  your  own,  go  out  and 
seek  him  out  and  find  out  more  about  him.   All  I  wanted 
to  do  is  put  his  effort,  his  work,  his  process,  his  way  in 
front  of  you. 

Also,  another  important  aspect  here  was  that  the 
musician  worked  very  diligently  at  trying  to  come  up 
with  sound  that  would  really  work  with  the  color.   In  other 
words,  he  was  aware  of  the  yellow,  he  was  aware  of  the  blue, 
he  was  aware  of  the  red  and  the  orange--let ' s  say  just 
these  few--and  he  tried  to  come  up  with  sound,  somehow,  to 
match  it.   Now  this  was  his  contribution. 
WESCHLER:   This  was  Irving  Bazilon. 

ENGEL:   It  was  Irving  Bazilon,  a  very  fine  composer  who's 
done  a  lot  of  films  and  has  always  been  commissioned  to 
do  large  works  of  art  music  for  individual  conductors. 
He  liked  the  work,  and  he  enjoyed  what  he  was  doing.   I 
gave  him  a  total  free  range,  as  I  always  do  for  people 
who  do  my  music,  because  I  expect  them  to  come  back  with 
something  very  special  that  I  would  nowhere  near  have  the 
idea  to  do.   The  only  thing  I  asked  him  to  do  in  the  film 
was  that  when  Jenkins  was  on  the  screen  we  will  not  have 
any  sound.   In  other  words,  I  wanted  the  painter  to  carry 
the  scene  through  his  personality,  through  his  presence. 
And  it  worked  very  well.   I  think  it  did  a  good  deal  for 
the  film.   However,  when  you  saw  only  the  character  of  the 


color  or  the  shapes  moving,  forming,  dissolving,  then  the 
music  was  very  comfortable;  and  really  it's  more  comfortable 
for  the  viewer.   I  think  an  artist  really  would  not  need  a 
sound  background,  no  more  than  he  would  need  a  sound  back- 
ground when  he  goes  into  a  gallery.   You  go  into  the  gallery, 
you  don't  have  music.   You  walk  through  the  gallery,  you 
stop,  you  move,  you  come  back  to  an  image.   But  there's 
no  music.   Yet  if  you  put  the  same  images  on  the  screen, 
it's  incredible:   immediately  people  want  music.   It's  just 
one  of  those  things.   But  anyway,  it  worked  out  well  here 
with  some  areas  where  Jenkins  was  on  the  screen  that  he 
would  be  working  without  music  behind  him. 
WESCHLER:   I'd  like  to  ask  you  a  few  specific  questions 
about  this  movie,  The  Ivory  Knife.   First  of  all,  you 
mentioned  Martha  Jackson;  did  you  know  her  before  this, 
or  did  she  seek  you  out? 

ENGEL:   No,  I  really  didn't  know  Martha  Jackson  before 
that.   I  was  recommended  to  her  by  a  mutual  friend.   The 
relationship  was  a  very  good  one;  she  didn't  get  in  my 
way;  and  when  she  did,  at  the  very  tail  end  of  the  film, 
I  was  able  to  convince  her  that  the  film  was  working  as 
it  is.   So  the  relationship  was  a  very  good  one. 
WESCHLER:   What  was  she  like? 

ENGEL:   Oh,  Martha  was  a  very  bright,  brilliant  person  who 
loved  art.   She  lived  art,  and  she  had  a  lot  of  ideas.   Even 


the  idea  of  doing  a  film  on  a  painter  at  that  time--I'm 
talking  about  '65,  '64--was  quite  unique  because  she  was 
thinking  of  using  the  film  and  then  sending  the  film  to 
countries  where  Paul  Jenkins  could  have  no  exhibit  but  could 
have  a  display  of  his  work  through  the  film.   This  was  her 
idea.   So  she  was  on  the  threshold  of  something  very 
important,  and  this  was  the  kind  of  head  that  Martha  had. 
But  a  person  who  really  loved  art;  that  was  her  total  life. 
WESPHLER:   Can  you  talk  a  little  about  the  actual  mechanics 
of  filming  a  film  with  Paul  Jenkins,  what  he  was  like? 
ENGEL:   Paul  was  very  comfortable  during  the  filming  because 
he  had  quite  an  image  of  himself,  that  he's  a  rather 
attractive  man,  and  I  think  the  whole  idea  for  him  was  a 
very  pleasurable  one.   And  when  he  saw  himself  on  the  screen, 
of  course,  he  looked  well.   He  had  almost  like  a  Christ 
figure,  and  he  was  very  comfortable  to  work  with,  comfortable 
in  front  of  a  camera.   I  tried  not  to  have  too  much  of 
him;  I  was  more  interested  often  in  the  way  he  worked 
his  hands.   There's  a  shot  at  the  very  beginning  of  a 
large  painting  where  two  yellow  stripes  come  down  and  you 
see  his  hands  and  they're  working.   I  was  more  interested 
in  that  aspect  of  it,  really,  than  him  as  a  painter,  because 
this  sword  has  two  edges.   In  other  words,  I  could  like  his 
work  and  I  could  not  like  his  work,  but  the  experience  of 
doing  a  film  with  somebody  like  him,  because  the  way  he 


works  is  an  interesting  one.   In  total  it  was  a  good 

The  only  problem,  really,  if  we're  talking  personalities 
was  really  Bazilon.   Bazilon  was  a  problem  because,  coming 
from  Los  Angeles —  Naturally,  he  tagged  me  immediately  as 
a  Hollywood  character,  and  this  had  to  be  straightened 
out.   He  had  a  couple  of  unpleasant  phrases  about  that,  you 
know,  throwing  at  me  before  we  started.   But  once  the  film 
started,  Bazilon  as  a  personality  was  then  very  beautiful. 
He  worked  like  a  dog,  and  he  was  then  really  a  beautiful 
talent,  once  he  got  over  that  idea  that  I'm  Hollywood  and 
he's  New  York.   Frankly,  if  I  have  anything  unpleasant  to 
say  about  this  man,  he  was  more  Hollywood  than  some  of  what 
we  call  "old-timers".   He  really  was  the  Hollywood  type. 
WESCHLER:   How  so? 

ENGEL:   Well,  because  of  his  whole  attitude,  the  way  he 
talked.   Somehow,  although  he  was  a  younger  man,  still  he 
had  what  I  call  the  Hollywood-of-Yesterday  in  attitude 
about  a  great  many  things.   In  other  words,  a  guy  who  knows 
everything:   you  can't  tell  him  anything,  an  incredible  ego 
who  would  love  to  talk  about  himself  twenty-four  hours  a 
day.   This  kind  of  a  heavy,  driving  ego,  you  know,  which  is 
not  around  here  as  much  as  it  used  to  be.   So  he  would  really 
strike  me  more  as  a  Hollywood  type. 
WESCHLER:   Was  Jenkins  a  talkative  type? 


ENGEL:   Jenkins  is  not  a  talkative  type;  he's  rather  quiet, 
very  slow.   He's  very  deliberate  in  his  speech,  and  he's 
very  much  in  the  terrain  of  a  zen  approach  of  painting  and 
thinking.   That  is  really  his  philosophy. 

WESCHLER:   It  strikes  me  that  his  painting  seems  to  be  a 
very  private  kind  of  activity  and  that  it  would  have  been 
very  difficult  to  do  it  in  front  of  cameras  with  other 
people  in  the  room.   Did  that  seem  to  be  a  problem? 
ENGEL:   Well,  that  was  never  a  problem  for  him  because 
he's  quite  a  bit  of —  He's  a  ham.   He  also  wrote  a  play  at 
that  time,  and  so  he  was  very  keen  of  the  world  of  the 
theater.   He  was  very  aware  because  he  was  functioning  in 
the  theater  with  a  play.   In  fact,  at  that  time  I  was  the 
only  one  that  he  even  told  about  the  play  that  he  wrote 
(which  has  been  published,  by  the  way) ,  and  the  reason  for 
that  was  because  again  the  restrictions  in  this  country 
that  if  you're  a  painter,  you  have  to  be  a  painter,  and 
if  you're  a  lithographer,  you're  a  lithographer.   People 
used  to  resent  an  artist  who'd  be  involved  in  other  arts, 
especially  on  the  American  scene.   So  he  wouldn't  dare 
tell  anyone  in  the  art  world  that  he  has  a  play  that  he 
has  written  and  which  was  performed  in  New  York,  because 
then  they  would  have  said,  "Well,  what  the  hell  are  you 
doing  with  writing?   You're  a  painter."   But  he  did.   To 
me  he  always  seemed  very  quiet,  very  gentle,  but  incredibly 


at  home  in  front  of  the  camera.  Because  I  think  with  one 
eye  he  always  had  that  direction,  probably  because  of  his 

WESCHLER:   Did  he  have  any  say  in  how  it  was  edited? 
Did  he  talk  to  you  about  what  he  wanted  from  it?   Or  was 
it  very  much  your  own  personal--? 

ENGEL:   No,  no,  Paul  told  me  absolutely  nothing  about  how 
he  wanted  it  or  what  I  should  do.   What  I  did  at  the  very, 
very  beginning  of  the  film,  which  you  saw  with  those  pots — 
There  was  one  shot  there  where  if  you  had  seen  that,  you 
would  think  it  was  Miro,  but  just  a  coincidence,  you  know, 
the  way  thing's  dropped.   I  showed  him  that  part  of  the 
film  immediately,  because  I  wanted  to  make  sure  that  what- 
ever is  on  the  screen  he  feels  comfortable  with  it.   He 
saw  that  and  immediately  mentioned  he  would  rather  not 
have  that.   I  saw  that  even  before  that,  but  I  wanted 
him  to  see  it,  and  then  by  doing  that  I'd  get  his  confidence 
that  I'm  not  going  to  do  anything  against  his  feelings. 
So  that  was  the  only  thing  that  I  did. 
WESCHLER:   Eventually  you  put  it  in  though? 
ENGEL:   No,  no,  that  was  another  shot. 
WESCHLER:   Oh,  I  see. 

ENGEL:  It  went  out,  because  if  you  had  seen  that,  that 
was  really  Miro.  It  was  just  a  coincidence,  but  it  was 
obvious.   So  immediately  that  went  out.   So  the  only  thing 


that  Jenkins  would  say  is  if  there  was  something  that 
he  felt  uncomfortable  with.   And  that  was  the  only  thing. 
The  rest  of  it  was  okay.   In  fact,  he  was  very,  very  happy 
with  the  film.   So  was  Martha.   They  were  very  pleased, 
because  the  film  did  win  them  first  prize  at  the  Venice 
International  Film  Festival,  1966.   It  won  all  kinds  of 
awards;  it  played  to  good  houses.   Oh,  also,  I  had  to  be 
very  careful,  very  careful  not  to  make  his  work  look  easy. 
Because  it  would  be  very  easy  for  people  to  see  a  film  like 
that  and  then  go  home  and  begin  to  do  finger  painting  and 
stuff  like  that.   So  that  is  where  I  had  to  be  very  careful 
not  to  make  it  look  like  that.   So  in  that  sense,  the  film 
was  very  successful.   If  anything,  I  think  it  gives  him  a 
very  large  presence,  maybe  even  larger  than  you  see  when 
you  see  his  paintings. 

WESCHLER:   Just  out  of  curiosity,  the  paintings  that  he 
did  while  you  were  filming  him,  were  those  eventually 
sold?   Do  you  have  any  idea  what  happened  to  those? 
ENGEL :   Almost  all  those  paintings  were  sold.   As  far  as 
selling,  Jenkins  practically  sold  out  every  show  at  that 
time  that  I  was  with  him  or  around  him.   He  was  selling 
everything  except  paintings  that  were--  You  see,  he  worked 
with  the  primary  colors,  as  you  notice,  the  red  and  the 
yellow  and  the  blue  and  orange  and  the  complementary — 
purple.   So  he  was  very  comfortable:   those  colors  are  very 


easy  to  live  with,  so  he  always  sold.   Mow  he  had  another 
group  of  paintings  that  he  did  sometime  later.   Those  were 
very  beautiful,  huge  paintings  of  grays  and  whites,  and  I 
don't  think  he  ever  sold  any  of  those.   But  these  paintings, 
yes,  he  had  absolutely  no  problem  of  practically  selling 
out  every  show  he  put  on.   And  that's  a  lot  of  money  in 

WESCHLER:   So  some  people  own  paintings  where  they  could 
even  have  a  movie  of  how  the  painting  was  made. 
ENGEL:   Oh,  yes,  yeah,  yeah.   And  then  the  book  came  out  by 
[Harry  N.]  Abrams  [inc.],  a  huge  book  on  Paul  Jenkins.   He 
does  mention  the  film  in  there,  I  think  there  are  even 
some  little  pictures  here  and  there  from  the  film.   But  as 
far  as  that  terrain  of  selling  is  concerned,  he  never  had 
any  problem. 

WESCHLER:   You  mentioned  his  primary  colors;  do  you  think 
that  his  art  is  unusually  photogenic  for  a  filmmaker? 
ENGEL:   It's  very  photogenic;  that  is  another  reason  I 
realized  from  the  very  beginning  that  this  should  be 
visually  very  beautiful,  because  you're  dealing  with  colors 
that  will  come  off  extremely  well.   The  color  plus  that 
things  were  in  motion,  that  was  enough  for  me.   And  then, 
of  course,  you  look  at  the  man  and  he  looks  like  Christ. 
I  mean,  you  had  a  beautiful  combination  of  material  that 
was  very  filmic,  you  know? 


WESCHLER:  Moving  from  him  to  the  other  film  that  you  showed 
me  the  other  day,  the  film  you  did,  The  Torch  and  the  Torso. 
ENGEL:   Torch  and  Torso,  Berrocal . 

WESCHLER:   Could  you  explain  how  that  came  about? 
ENGEL:   That  again  came  about  in  a  very  interesting  way, 
because  [Miguel]  Berrocal  had  been  trying  and  hoping  to 
do  a  film.   When  he  knew  I  was  in  Paris,  he  had  someone 
come  to  me,  and  we  had  a  meeting.   The  fact  that  I  was 
from  animation  and  dealt  with  movement  and  shapes  and  forms, 
he  thought  I  would  be  the  ideal  person  to  do  a  film,  because 
his  sculpture  is  put  together  sometimes  with  as  many  as 
fifteen,  eighteen,  twenty,  thirty  pieces.   They  fit  together 
almost  like  a  jigsaw  puzzle.   Because  we  were  working  with 
these  many  shapes  and  sizes,  he  thought  because  of  my 
background  I  could  do  well. 

Now,  I  had  to  be  very  careful  with  his  film  again, 
because  at  first  he  wanted  to  make  it  funny,  to  have  these 
pieces  move  around  and  jump  and  come  together.   But  I 
would  have  destroyed  him  as  an  artist;  and  his  direction 
was  not  to  be  funny  at  all,  not  when  you  see  those  colossal, 
heavy,  ponderous  pieces.   They're  incredibly  powerful. 
There's  nothing  funny  about  this  stuff.   So  if  I  made  him 
funny,  as  he  thought,  well,  he  would  have  come  off  as  a 
clown.   So  I  had  to  talk  him  out  of  that.   Although  there's 
one  little  moment  in  the  film  where  pieces  jump  around. 


But  that's  just  enough,  it's  very  little,  it's  small,  it 
doesn't  hurt  him. 

Also  what  was  interesting  here  was  that  I  would  go  to 
black  and  white,  because  everything  of  his  was  stainless 
steel,  it  was  steel.   The  originals  that  you  see  in  the  film 
are  all  unique  pieces.   Those  pieces  were  done  by  him. 
They're  gray,  silver,  high  polished;  and  I  would  not  go 
into  color  because,  I  mean,  there  was  nothing  there.   Even 
when  we  went  to  his  foundry  in  Verona,  the  whole  place, 
the  whole  interior  was  black  and  white  really,  black  and 
white  or  gray.   So  why  destroy  this  wonderful  color  with 
a  color  film?   It  was  just  a  natural  thing. 

But  the  reason  again  I  came  to  do  this  film  was  a 
strange  coincidence  or  situation  that  sometimes  bring  you 
into  these  experiences,  you  know.   In  other  words,  sometimes 
things  come  to  you,  and  often  when  things  come  to  you, 
even  if  you  don't  like  a  project,  take  it,  because  there  is 
something  there  that's  right. 
WESCHLER:   Can  you  describe  Berrocal  a  bit? 

ENGEL:   Berrocal  at  that  time  I  think  was  about  thirty-six, 
and  he  represented  Spain  at  the  Venice  Biennale.   He's  a 
charming  fellow.   He  loves  huge  cigars.   He  has  a  walk  like 
Groucho  Marx;  I  noticed  that  on  him  immediately;  I  don't 
think  he's  aware  of  it,  but  I  was.   He  loves  to  live  well. 
He  always  had  a  big,  beautiful  car,  big  homes.   But  he ' s  a 


very  hard  worker.   When  he's  going  into  a  show  of  his,  he 
spends  four  or  five  months,  twelve,  fourteen,  sixteen 
hours  a  day,  steady,  in  the  foundry.   A  hard  worker,  strong 
and  accurate.   His  background  is  architecture;  that  was  the 
first  thing  he  did  was  architecture,  then  into  printing, 
then  into  painting.   Nothing  really  worked  until  he  touched 
sculpture,  and  then  it  worked.   From  the  very  beginning  it 
worked.   And  then  there  was  nothing  else  for  him  except 
sculpture.   It  was  a  wonderful  thing  to  work  with  him  because, 
as  hard  a  worker  as  he  is,  he  still  loved  living  well.   We 
would  go  out  during  the  shooting;  we  did  the  film  in  Venice, 
and  we  always  spent  two  hours  for  lunch  and  had  the  best  of 
food.   I  remember  once  we  had  to  rush  a  little  bit  with 
lunch,  although  the  lunch  was  already  very,  very  good;  we 
walked  around  the  block,  and  next  thing  I  know  we're  going 
into  a  little  bistro  or  someplace  because  we  forgot  to  have 
an  after-dinner  drink.   So  I  had  to  have  after-dinner  drink, 
he  had  after-dinner  drink.   [laughter]   It  was  too  strong 
but,  you  know,  when  you're  working  with  him,  you  play  with 

WESCHLER:   I  notice  in  both  The  Ivory  Knife  and  The  Torch 
and  the  Torso,  there's  no  narrative  voice.   There's  no 
voice  that  tells  you  that  the  artist  was  born  such-and- 
such,  or  that  his  studio  is  located  in  such-and-such  and 
so  forth.   Do  you  have  a  particular  bias  against  using  that 

kind  of  voice? 


ENGEL:   I  felt  that  the  way  we  are  going  to  put  the  films 
together,  that,  just  viewing  it,  it  will  explain  itself 
and  you  don't  need  anyone  to  tell  you.   I  find  it's  very 
redundant  when  you're  looking  at  something.   It's  all  there, 
it's  all  in  front  of  you,  so  why  then  have  someone  tell  you 
what  you're  looking  at?   I  feel  that  the  picture  is  put 
together  in  such  a  way  that  you  can  see  the  process.   Again, 
all  I  do  is  take  you  into  the  environment  and  show  you  his 
workshop,  show  you  his  foundry,  show  him  handling  the 
material,  so  you  see  what  the  man  is  all  about  when  he's 
at  work  and  then  you  see  the  finished  product.   And  if  the 
art  doesn't  explain  itself,  then  it's  already  too  bad, 
because  if  you  have  to  explain  art,  there's  something  wrong 
with  it.   In  other  words,  in  art  you're  doing  something 
that  you  cannot  put  into  words,  and  that's  the  whole  idea. 
Even  in  Jenkins  or  Berrocal,  those  things  cannot  be  put  into 
words:   it  has  to  be  seen,  it  has  to  be  felt,  it  has  to 
be  touched. 

WESCHLER:   One  of  the  nice  things  about  The  Torch  and  the 
Torso  is  a  kind  of  tactile  quality  to  the  images. 
ENGEL:   Yes,  I  wanted  to  capture  the  shine,  the  spark  that 
it  had,  so  I  put  them  in  front  of  black  velvet  and  practically 
no  light,  or  very  little  light,  but  it  picked  up  what  was 
there.   I  wanted  to  just  give  it  back  to  the  viewer,  that 


that's  the  way  I  saw  it,  and  this  is  the  way  I'm  going 

to  show  it  to  you. 

WESCHLER:   One  thing  interests  me  in  your  comments  about 

art  being  a  nonverbal  thing  is  that  I  know  that  you  are 

not  yourself  nonverbal.   You're  very  articulate,  and  also 

you  have  a  great  love  of  words.   You  were  telling  me  the 

other  day  that  you  love  plays . 

ENGEL:   Oh  yes. 

WESCHLER:   You  have  a  whole  shelf  of  books  on  theater  and 

so  forth.   So  that  is  not  a  negative  attitude  toward  words 

per  se  at  all . 

ENGEL:   No,  my  hobby  is  I  love  to  read  plays,  and  I  love 

the  dialogue.   In  fact,  some  time  ago,  before  I  started  to 

do  any  kind  of  a  painting,  I  would  read  a  play  or  read  at 

least  one  act.   I  would  have  very  special  plays  like  [August] 

Strindberg's  The  Father.   I  would  read  the  first  act  and 

then  that  would  put  me  in  some  kind  of  mood  that  I  could 

go  into  my  work.   I  think  it's  very  unusual.   I  don't  think 

there's  any  other  painter  who  reads  plays  before  he  starts 

to  work. 

WESCHLER:   What  is  the  relationship  between  the  work  that's 

produced  after  you've  read  a  play  and  the  play  that  you've 


ENGEL:   Well,  I  think  it's  probably  the  structure,  the 

structure  or  the  way  a  good  play  is  written,  the  way  the 


words  fit;  it  fits  like  a  piece  of  building,  and  my  work 

is  very  much  structured  that  way.   They're  very  architectural, 

and  I  think  plays  are  very  architectural.   They  have  a 

structure,  and  this  is  what  puts  me  in  a  good  frame  of 


WESCHLER:   Will  a  dark,  somber  scene  in  a  play  produce  a 

dark,  somber  painting? 

ENGEL:   No,  no,  it's  not  so  much  of  that.   It's  more  the 

continuity  of  a  dialogue,  the  way  they  overlap  each  other  and 

the  way  they  fit  or  go  around  each  other  and  then  come  back 

from  another  point  of  view.   That  is  the  character  of  a 

play  that  makes  me  feel  good,  and  it  puts  me  in  a  mood 

with  my  work. 

WESCHLER:   Returning  to  live-action  films,  we've  talked 

about  The  Ivory  Knife  and  The  Torch  and  the  Torso.   This  is 

a  list  of  the  other  ones,  and  I  just  thought  you  might 

briefly  mention  any  others  that  you  might  want  to  include, 

besides  the  Tamarind  film  which  we'll  get  to  in  a  second. 

ENGEL:   Yeah,  well,  we  did  talk  about  Coaraze . 

WESCHLER:   Right,  we've  already  talked  about  that. 

ENGEL:   We  did  talk  about  Coaraze.   Then  there's  New  York 

100 .   It's  another  film  that  was  done  for  Martha  Jackson 

Gallery,  and  it's  the  work  of  John  Hultberg.   Hultberg, 

of  course,  was  not  as  quiet  or  as  delicate  or  as  simple 

a  film,  from  a  point  of  view  of  approach,  of  working 


situation,  as  the  Jenkins  film  because,  see,  because  here 
we're  dealing  with  flat  paintings  and  there's  no  movement, 
no  flow  of  painting.   So  you  were  back  into  a  very  character- 
istic terrain  when  you  work  with  a  painter,  although  there 
was  one  painting  that  he  was  working  on  at  the  time — 
So  you  get  some  idea  of  him  being  in  motion  while  he  paints. 
But  the  joy  was  not  as  much  as  it  was  when  I  worked  on  the 
Jenkins  film,  because  he  was  really,  really  truly  a  filmic 

Light  Motion,  it  was  done  for  Esther  Robles  Gallery 
here  in  Los  Angeles.   The  idea  about  this  film  was  that 
instead  of  taking  photographs  over  to  Europe  with  her  on  her 
trip  to  Europe,  why  not  take  a  fifteen-  or  sixteen-minute 
film  and  show  the  gallery  and  show  the  artists  and  see  the 
work;  and  then  you  can  move  around  the  work,  because  a 
number  of  those  were  in  motion,  you  know;  and  some  had 
sound.   So  why  not  make  a  sixteen-minute  film?   Then  she'd 
have  something  to  take  back  to  France  or  Germany,  and 
people  would  really  have  a  chance  to  see  her  stable. 
t^SCHLER:   So  this  was  all  the  people  in  her  stable. 
ENGEL:   All  the  people  in  her  stable,  yes. 

WESCHLER:   Were  there  any  particular  ones  that  come  to  mind? 
ENGEL:   Oh,  [Robert]  Cremean  was  in  there;  Cremean  was  in 
WESCHLER:   Was  Claire  Falkenstein  in  there? 


ENGEL:   No,  no,  but  Cremean  was  in  there,  and,  let's  see, 

who  else?   Oh  I'll  be  damned.   Pat  O'Neill  was  in  there  as 

a  sculptor,  and,  oh,  some  of  those  artists  I  don't  even 


WESCHLER:   We  can  fill  them  in  later. 

ENGEL:   At  this  stage,  but  I  can  get  names  on  them,  yes. 

And  then  recently  I  did  a  film  on  Max  Bill,  the  Swiss 
painter  and  architect  and  designer  and  politician  [Max  Bill] , 
That  was  done  for  the  Comsky  gallery,  for  Cynthia  Comsky. 
I  very  much  liked  the  work  of  Max  Bill,  but  the  situation 
here  was  very  complicated,  because  we  were  going  to  do  a 
film  on  his  work,  but  the  work  never  arrived.   It  was  some- 
where in  customs,  and  we  had  the  cameras  and  everything  all 
lined  up. 
WESCHLER:   Here? 

ENGEL:   Yeah.   So  what  we  had  to  do — and  Cynthia  improvised 
the  idea — we  stretched  huge  canvases  all  over  the  gallery, 
and  then  Max  Bill  just  started  to  make  drawings  on  the 
stretched  canvases.   It  was  very  impromptu,  you  know,  almost 
like  a  happening  kind  of  thing.   He  did  talk  about  things. 
This  was  very  interesting  from  a  point  of  view,  because 
you  never  knew  what  he  was  going  to  do,  because  we  couldn't 
set  him  in  motion  in  the  way  of  saying,  "Now,  Max,  you  stand 
here  and  you  stand  there  and  the  camera  will  be — "   We 
told  him,  "You  do  what  you  damn  well  please,  and  I'm  going 


to  work  around  you."   So  that  was  the  process.   I  had  two 
cameras  to  work  with,  so  I  put  them  in  the  positions  where 
I  got  the  most  out  of  him  at  work.   And  the  filming  was 
finished.   Then  I  had  to  go  up  to  San  Francisco,  because 
he  had  a  large  exhibit  there,  and  take  a  lot  of  still  photos 
of  his  exhibit  in  San  Francisco.   So  then  at  the  end  it  all 
ended  up  in  the  editing  room  and  had  to  be  put  together, 
really,  at  the  editing  table.   But  it's  all  right.   I  like  to 
work  that  way,  where  you  really  don't  know  where  you're 
going  to  be  the  next  shot,  so  when  you  come  to  the  editing, 
that's  when  the  whole  picture  gets  put  together  and  you 
have  a  lot  more  freedom.   But  it  has  a  good  continuity  and 
it  is  Max  Bill  at  work. 

WESCHLER:   Can  you  describe  him  by  the  way? 
ENGEL :   Well,  he  was  very  pleasant,  a  very  gentleman,  as 
to  work  with  him  under  these  conditions,  but  I  really 
don't  know  how  he  is  when  the  conditions  are  different. 
But  he  was  very  pleasant  and  very  kind,  had  a  kind  of  a 
humorous  face  for  the  camera.   But,  oh,  it  was  very 
interesting  because,  what  I  did,  I  looked  out  the  window 
(we  were  on  the  second  floor)  and  there's  a  shot  there  of 
the  street,  you  know,  red  lights  and  the  green  lights  and 
a  lot  of  lines,  you  know,  just  stop  and  lines  for  the  cars 
to  stop.   It  had  a  wonderful  Mondrianish  quality,  looking 
down.   So  I  had  a  shot  taken  of  that,  and  we  showed  him  the 


rushes.   He  said,  "Oh  no,  that's  not  me,  that's  Mondrian." 
I  wanted  to  use  the  shot  in  the  film,  because  here  we  are 
in  the  studio,  see  this  man  work  on  a  wall,  and  I  had  the 
camera  turn  and  just  pick  up  a  shot,  you  know,  where  he  is. 
But  all  those  lines,  you  see,  he  wouldn't  have  that.   But 
naturally  you  have  to  go  with  the  talent,  because  if  he 
tells  you,  "No,  I  feel  it's  wrong,"  it's  wrong. 
WESCHLER:   Sure. 

ENGEL:   So  I  mean,  in  that  sense  you  have  no  choice.   But 
it  was  a  good  situation.   Filmically,  it  would  have  been 
a  very  nice,  nice  thing,  you  know,  go  from  the  lines  in  the 
street  back  into  the  lines  back  in  the  room. 
WESCHLER:   Just  a  couple  of  questions  about  pure  technical 
matters  of  filming.   You  have  camera  people  along  who  do 
the  actual  manning  of  these  live-action  cameras,  or  do  you 
do  that  yourself? 

ENGEL:   No,  no,  I'm  not  a  cameraman.   I  can  take  still 
photos,  and  I  can  do  pretty  well  with  that,  but  when  it 
comes  to  really  work  like  this,  then  I  prefer  to  have  a 
couple  of  cameramen.   Sometimes  I  just  need  one,  sometimes 
I  need  two.   Because  I  work  with  a  great  deal  of  speed.   In 
other  words,  if  I  walk  into  a  place,  like  for  instance  when 
I  did  the  Berrocal  film  and  I  walked  into  the  foundry,  I 
just  walked  in  there  once,  walked  through  the  place,  looked 
at  the  corners,  the  windows,  where  people  were  working,  and 


from  that  moment  on,  I  know  what  I  want  to  do .   I  had  the 
shots  pretty  well  in  my  head,  even  from  a  point  of  view  of 
continuity,  how  I  go  from  one  shot  into  another.   And  then 
also  I  like  to  do  a  lot  of  shots  which  people  would  say, 
"No,  it  will  never  work,  you're  not  going  to  see  anything, 
it's  going  to  be  too  light."   Then  I'll  take  all  those  shots, 
and  also  take  the  shots  I  know  will  give  me  the  film. 
Then,  I  will  also  ask  the  cameraman,  "If  you  see  anything 
here  that  you  want  to  shoot,  shoot  it,  and  we'll  see  what 
we  get  back."   But  I'm  always  looking  for  this  happy 
accident  that  you  don't  find  much  in  film,  because  everything 
is  so  structured.   The  cameras  are  structured,  the  cameraman 
is  structured,  and  they  have  taboos:   you  don't  do  this,  you 
don't  do  that,  this  will  never  work.   I've  never  done  it 
before,  but  I  like  to  find  accidents.   There's  not  too 
much  of  it  in  live-action,  but  sometimes  something  happens 
that  is  so  wonderful  as  an  image  and  I  can  still  make  it 
work,  you  know,  in  a  total  film.   But  on  Berrocal,  I  shot 
one  shot  of  everything,  I  never  shot  anything  twice.   I  don't 
have  to,  because  if  I  look  through  the  camera  and  I  have 
the  composition  that  I  want  and  it's  lit  well,  the  light  is 
right,  then  this  is  it.   And  as  I  say,  I'm  putting  a  film 
together  at  that  moment  already. 
WESCHLER:   Do  you  use  editors? 
ENGEL:   I  use  editors,  but  they  don't  edit  my  film.   I  use 


them  as  splicers;  they  splice  my  film.   But  I  don't  say  that 
in  front  of  them.   Because  that's  when  I  put  the  film 
together.   I  put  a  film  together  when  I  edit.   That's  when 
I  make  a  film.   And  what  she  or  he  will  do  is,  I  pick  the 
material,  I  pick  the  footage,  I  pick  the  length  of  each 
shot,  that  this  is  what  I  want.   I  will  ask  once  in  a  while, 
"Do  you  have  a  recommendation?   Do  you  see  anything  that 
I  don't  see?"   That's  okay;  if  a  person  has  an  idea,  sure, 
I  listen,  and  why  not?   But  I  make  the  film  when  I  edit; 
that's  the  only  time.   Because  when  I  shoot,  I  already 
[shoot]  v/ith  that  in  mind,  what  will  follow  and  how  it  will 
work.   But  I  don't  like  the  process.   I  don't  like  to  sit 
at  the  editing  desk,  because  what  I  like  to  do  while  I 
edit  like  this  is  I  like  to  walk  around  the  room  and  glance 
toward  the  image.   And  I  do  that,  I  walk  away,  and  I  almost 
feel  like  as  if  I  was  painting,  you  know,  how  you  walk 
away  from  a  painting,  you  walk  back  and  you  look  at  it.   I 
almost  use  the  same  process  when  I  edit,  and  that's  why 
I  need  someone  who  only  splices  and  I  say,  "Okay,  let's  run 
it."   And  I  walk  away  and  I--  Even  when  it's  running  I 
might  walk  away  and  turn  around  and  look.   That's  maybe  a 
strange  way  of  doing  things,  but  I  have  to  be  almost  a 
little  bit  in  motion  when  I'm  working  on  a  film  and  not  be 
sitting  in  front  of  a  table. 
WESCHLER:   Well,  why  don't  we  move  from  talking  about  the 


live-action  films,  to  talking  about —  Have  you  covered  all 

the  films? 

ENGEL:   Yeah.   Yeah,  yeah. 

WESCHLER:   To  talking  over  lithography,  and  then  we'll 

talk  a  little  about  the  time  that  you  did.   But 

first  of  all,  what  was  the  first  time  that  you  went  to 


ENGEL:   In  1960. 

WESCHLER:   So,  you  were  one  of  the  very  early  people  at 


ENGEL:   Early,  early,  yes. 

WESCHLER:   Let's  talk  a  little  about  you  and  lithography 

first.   Had  you  done  any  lithography  before  you  went  to 


ENGEL:   No,  no.   You  see,  when  I  had  a  call,  or  a  letter, 

from  June  Wayne —  [tape  recorder  turned  off] 

WESCHLER:   Well,  starting  up  again  about  Tamarind,  how 

did  you  know  June  Wayne,  or  did  you? 

ENGEL:   I  knew  June  Wayne  because  I  was  exhibiting  at  that 

time  very  extensively  here  in  Los  Angeles,  so  she  knew  my 

work.   And  although  I  had  never  done  any  lithography  or 

printing,  but  that  was  the  whole  idea  of  June--this  is 

where  she  was  very  bright--is  to  pull  in  people  into  a 

medium  where  they've  never  done  anything,  to  introduce  them 

to  a  new  field,  not  just  to  go  to  people  who've  been  doing 


it,  because  if  they'd  been  doing  it,  they'd  be  doing  the 
same  thing  they  did  yesterday.   Her  idea  was  to  get  people 
in  there  who'd  never  touched  the  medium  and  see  what  they'd 
come  up  with.   That  was  very  good. 
WESCHLER:   So  one  day  you  got  a  letter  from  her? 
ENGEL:   So  I  got  a  letter  from  June  Wayne,  telling  me  about 
it,  that  they  were  offering  me  this  Tamarind  scholarship. 
And  it's  a  strange  thing  but,  you  know,  I  really  turned  it 
down,  really  turned  it  down.   But  two  months  went  by,  four, 
six,  nine  months  went  by,  and  she  still  was  asking. 
WESCHLER:   Why  were  you  turning  it  down? 

ENGEL:   Well,  because  I'd  never  done  anything  with  print, 
and  the  idea  of  doing  something  where  you  have  to  wait 
and  go  through  all  the  process  and  see  what  it  looks  like 
was  something  I  wouldn't  enjoy.   Because  when  you  paint, 
it's  a  point  of  view,  you're  in  it,  you're  part  of  it,  you're 
seeing  what's  happening.   But  the  idea  of  doing  something 
and  then  to  have  someone  else  or  even  yourself  push  it  or 
poke  it  or  whatever  you  have  to  do,  and  wait,  you  know,  that 
to  me  was  very  alien.   But  this  strange  [thing]  happened. 
After  a  while,  I  said  to  myself,  "Now,  wait,  wait,  there's 
something  wrong.   This  thing  is  coming  your  way.   Why  are 
you  turning  it  down?"   You  see,  that's  one  of  those  strange 
things  you  can't  explain.   Then  I  said  to  myself,  "It's 
wrong  for  me  to  turn  it  down."   So  I  called  up  June  and  I 


said,  "Okay,  when  shall  I  come  in?"   So,  okay,  we  made  the 
arrangements . 

Now  the  arrangement  was  a  very  strange  one,  because 
it's  a  two-month  situation.   But,  you  see,  I  was  working 
at  UPA  and  I  could  only  come  in  on  Saturdays  and  Sundays, 
which  was  all  right  with  her,  but  it  lasted  like  a  year  and 
a  half.   For  a  year  and  a  half  I  went  there  on  Sundays  and 
the  studio  of  course  then  was  cold — I  think  I  ended  up 
once  with  a  pretty  heavy  cold.   But  I  stuck  to  it  and  I 
came  out  with  about  six  or  eight  or  ten,  and  some  were 
really  full-size,  full-size  prints.   But  at  the  beginning 
it  was  very  difficult  for  me,  because,  as  I  say,  I  had  no 
idea  about  the  medium.   But  that  was  the  whole  object  of 
hers,  is  to  have  people  go  in  there  who  are  painters  or 
sculptors  and  see  what  they  do,  even  if  they  fumble  or 
bumble . 

WESCHLER:   We  have  an  interview  with  June  Wayne,  but  we 
don't  have  an  interview  with  anyone  describing  what  that 
process  of  the  early  confrontations  was.   You  went  there, 
and  what  was  it  like? 

ENGEL:   When  I  went  there,  all  June  asked  me  was  if  I  have 
an  idea.   And  I  said,  "Yes,  I  have  an  idea."   I  think  the 
idea  I  had  at  that  time  was  that  I  would  have  Ray  Bradbury 
write  the  material  that  would  be  like  a  book,  or  a  large 
portfolio;  it  would  have  something  to  do  with —  I  think  at 


that  time,  the  Bomb  was  already  in  motion,  this  kind  of  a 
wild  explosions  that  was  leading  up  to  things.   I  knew  Ray 
Bradbury  well.   But  I  never  got  to  that,  because  as  I 
started  to  work  with  the  medium,  I  said,  "Oh,  the  hell  with 
that  book  and  that  portfolio.   I'm  just  going  to  go  wild 
and  just  do  what  feels  natural  as  far  as  this  whole  new 
medium  is  concerned." 

WESCHLER:   What  kind  of  facilities  were  at  your  disposal 
for  you  to  go  wild  with?   Was  there  a  printer  there? 
ENGEL:   Oh,  at  Tamarind  you  had  printers,  you  had  master 
printers.   Now  the  whole  idea,  again,  of  June's  was  twofold: 
First,  to  get  people  who  never  touched  a  stone,  v/ho'd 
never  done  any  printing,  that  was  one,  but  that  was  really 
not  the  important  thing.   The  important  thing  was  to  develop 
master  printers,  because  that's  what  lacked  in  this  country: 
you  had  no  printers.   So  that  was  the  key  drive  at  Tamarind, 
and  that's  how  you  have  Gemini  [Editions,  Limited],  and 
that's  how  you  have  Cirrus.   I  just  mention  two,  and  there 
are  several  others  that  came  out  of  Tamarind.   So  what  she 
did,  she  really  developed  master  printers.   She  had  the 
best  printer  then,  a  fellow  by  the  name  of  "Bobitch" 
[Bohuslav  Horak]  that  she  brought  over  from  Europe.   And 
under  his  guide  other,  let's  say  people  who  were  involved 
in  print  but  not  there  yet,  they  were  working  with  Bobitch, 
and  they  were  developing  as  master  printers.   So  I  had  the 


best  printer,  and  I  had  the  best  equipment,  any  paper  I 
wanted,  any  paper,  stones,  anything  and  everything.   She 
had  everything  the  best,  and  that  was  June's  way  of  doing 
things . 

WESCHLER:   Already  in  1960 — it  was  that  way  from  the  very 

ENGEL:   Oh  yes,  'cause  don't  forget,  you  also  had  Clinton 
Adams  there  and  Garo  Antreasian.   Now,  Garo  Antreasian  was 
a  printer,  and  you  had  these  two  men  there  who  were  really 
June's  right  arm.   So  she  had  a  beautiful  shop:   it  was  all 
set,  all  organized,  and  it  was  strict  and  very  articulate. 
WESCHLER:   How  do  you  mean  strict? 

ENGEL:   Strict  in  that  there  was  no  monkeying  around  there, 
it  was  not  a  playpen,  it  was  a  workshop  for  serious  work. 
The  only  problem  was  sometimes  that  talent —  Adja  Yunkers 
was  there.   Well,  I  remember  that  time,  he  used  up  something 
like  $800  or  $900  worth  of  paper,  just  looking  and  feeling 
his  way  around.   I  mean,  that  was  a  little  too  much.   I 
mean,  you  could  do  as  you  damn  well  pleased,  but  that  was 
unheard  of,  using  that  amount  of  money,  just,  you  know — 
And  nothing!   And  I  think  that's  when  June  began  to  put, 
let's  say,  guidelines  or  something  down,  where  if  you 
wanted  a  paper,  if  you  wanted  a  paper,  if  you  knew  anything 
about  papers,  it  was  there  for  you,  but  the  environment  was 
that  of  very  serious  work.   I  mean,  you  can  have  fun  and 


all,  but  it  was  not  a  toy  shop  and  the  people  who  came 
there,  they  meant  business.   Because,  after  all,  two  months, 
if  you  come  from  some  place,  is  not  a  long  time,  and  you 
wanted  to  walk  out  of  that  place  at  least  with,  let's  say, 
eight  or  ten  prints,  any  size,  and  twenty  each.   So  let's  say 
if  you  walked  out  with  160  prints — let's  say,  eight  different 
images,  twenty  of  each — I  mean,  after  two  months,  that  was 
a  beautiful  thing.   You  could  work  there  ten,  twelve  hours 
a  day,  so  you  were  able  to  be  productive,  and  naturally  the 
talent  that  came  there,  they  wanted  to  be  just  that. 

And  June  was  a  real  strong  influence.   Oh,  I  mean  she 
never  got  involved  in  your  work,  but  when  the  work  was  ready 
to  be  signed  and  sealed  with  the  Tamarind  stamp,  then  she 
really  looked  at  every  print.   I  remember  I  had  colored 
print,  not  too  big,  had  I  think  four  or  five  colors,  and 
a  printer  by  the  name  of  Joe  Funk--even  that  name  gives  you 
an  idea  what  was  wrong  there--his  hands  were  dirty  and  he 
was  sloppy.   Well,  after  I  had  these  eighteen  or  twenty 
prints  ready,  they  came  in  front  of  June  Wayne,  and  June 
threw  all  of  them  out,  because  there  were  little  spots  on 
the  white,  and  that  was  Joe's  doing.   That's  what  I  mean, 
that  she  really  was-- 

WESCHLER:   She  had  very  high  standards? 

ENGEL:   --on  top  of  you  for  that  aspect.   Not  what  you're 
doing,  but  the  finished  print  had  to  be  really  right. 


DECEMBER  30,  19  77 

WESCHLER:   Can  you  describe  this  woman.   It's  rather  a 
remarkable  thing  in  1960,  to  have  a  woman  running  a  very-- 
ENGEL:   I  can  be  sketchy,  but  the  idea  was  at  that  time  the 
Ford  Foundation  was  going  to  give  out  some  grants  to 
different  talents,  and  June  was  one  they  were  going  to  give 
a  grant  to,  and  June  said  that's  the  wrong  thing  to  do, 
that's  not  the  way  to  go  about  it.   (Now,  I'm  just  telling 
you  as  I  remember.)   They  said,  "Well,  what  do  you  mean  it's 
not  the  way?"   She  says,  "No,  it's  not  the  way.   The  way 
to  do  it  is  to  set  up  a  shop  where  you're  going  to  train 
not  just  this  one  artist,  but  you  train  master  printers, 
plus  you  have  art  coming  out."   At  first  they  said,  "Well, 
that's  strange,  and  it's  a  very  big  order?"   But  she  stuck 
to  her  guns,  and  she  did  have  some  people  on  the  grant 
committee  that  more  or  less  were  beginning  to  go  with  her; 
and  finally  she  convinced  them  to  do  just  this. 

Now,  the  next  big  hurdle  was  after  she  convinced  them 
that  this  is  the  way  to  go,  then  she  said,  "Okay  now,  the 
place  will  be  in  Los  Angeles,  'cause  that's  where  I  live." 
Well,  they  said,  "No,  no,  no,  Los  Angeles  is  not  a  place 
for  anything  like  that;  it's  the  wrong  environment."   She 
said,  "Well,  if  it's  the  wrong  environment,  then  good-bye." 
Again  her  friends  came  to  her  aid,  and  she  finally  had  her 


way.   They  gave  her  the  money,  whatever  it  was,  and  the 
shop  was  put  up. 

And  it's  interesting,  at  that  time,  I  think  Henry 
Seldis  had  an  article  in  the  [Los  AngelesJ  Times  saying 
that  it's  not  going  to  work.   Well,  I  think  a  year  and  a 
half  later.  Tamarind  had  it's  first  exhibit  at  UCLA,  and 
the  article  started  out  by  saying,  "I  apologize,  because 
it  works . " 

Now  the  good  thing  about  June  was  that  she  could  have 
gone  to  New  York,  'cause  that  probably  would  have  been  more 
ideal,  or  someplace  else.   But  she  said,  "No,  this  is  a  good 
place  as  any."   And  you  see,  again,  what  was  good  about  it 
was  that  she  didn't  look  for  a  self-- 
WESCHLER:   Aggrandizing? 

ENGEL:   — aggrandizing,  because  if  she  went  to  New  York, 
she  would  have  been  near  the  top  of  the  heap,  and  she  would 
have  been  a  great  lady  and  all  that.   So  she  didn't  do 
anything  like  that.   She  opens  a  shop  here,  and  she  asks 
a  lot  of  people  who  did  not,  at  that  time,  have  international 
presence.   But  that  didn't  mean  anything  to  her,  because 
she  also  called  people  in  that  had  a  large  presence  at  that 
time  and  people  who  didn't.   But  she  believed  in  that.   So 
in  a  sense  she  believed  in  Los  Angeles  also.   And  this  is 
why  I'm  still  a  champion  of  her,  because  I  like  this  feeling 
where  you  believe  in  something  and  just  because  it  doesn't 


have  a  presence,  because  you  don't  have  the  kind  of  publicity- 
like  the  New  York  scene,  she  believed  in  it,  stuck  to  it,  and 
she  proved  that  it  can  be  done,  and  it  was  done.   This  is  some- 
thing very  special  about  her,  'cause  so  few  people  here  in  Los 
Angeles  have  really  stayed  with  the  city  or  helped  the  city, 
they  always  hang  on  a  coattail  of  New  York  or  some  other  place. 
You  have  to  give  her  this  credit,  that  damn  it,  she  did  it  here, 
WESCHLER:   Was  there  a  small  bias  towards  Los  Angeles 
artists  in  her  selections  of  grants  that  she  gave? 
ENGEL:   No,  I  don't  think  so.   I  don't  think  so,  because 
as  I  remember  they  were  coming  in  from  all  directions. 
There  was  no  such  thing  as  one  of  a  type  or  a  direction,  no. 
I  think  the  variety  of  talents  that  she  pulled  in  from  the 
city  were  a  cross-section  of  anything  and  everything,  where 
the  performance  was  right. 

WESCHLER:   Can  you  describe  how  she  ran  her  place.   You 
mentioned  her  staying  away  from  the  artists  and  so  forth. 
Was  it  clearly  though  June's  workshop? 

ENGEL:   No,  it  wasn't  June's  workshop,  it  was  Tamarind 
Workshop.   If  you  worked  there,  you  started  at  eight-thirty 
or  eight  o'clock,  and  generally  you  worked  till  five  or 
five-thirty.   If  you  came  in  at  ten,  it  was  all  right.   But 
I  did  find  that  most  of  the  people  who  were  working  there, 
doing  printing,  they  were  very  much  on  time,  and  it  was  to 
their  advantage  to  be  there  on  time.   She  would  come  in 


sometimes  and  look  at  your  work  and  maybe  say  a  word  or 

two,  but  never  that  I  remember  would  she  ever  put  any  effort 

or  say  no,  not  this  way,  or  do  it  that  way.   If  you  ask 

her,  she  would  maybe  comment,  but  there  was  no  such  thing. 

If  she  came  into  the  shop,  she  came  in  because  she  wanted 

to  talk  about  something  to  somebody  or  check  the  equipment, 

because  maybe  something  was  going  wrong  with  the  equipment, 

and  that  was  her  activity  in  the  shop  then. 

WESCHLER:   Was  she  in  command  of  the  whole  operation,  or 

were  there  other  people  who  shared  it  with  her? 

ENGEL:   Yes,  she  was  in  command,  and  her  two  big  helpers  were 

Clinton  Adams  and  Garo  Antreasian.   I  mean,  they  were  really 

chiefs,  let's  say.   I  think  at  that  time  Adams  and  Garo  were 

really  what  you  call  the  master  printers,  and  they  ran  the 

shop.   But  even  from  them,  there  was  never  any  interference; 

however,  if  you  wanted  to  ask  them  or  get  advice,  you  know, 

technical  advice,  they  were  always  there  and  would  be  very 

helpful.   Well,  that  was  about  their  activity.   Garo  already 

was  printing  his  own  stuff.   So  they  were  also  working  in  the 

place  on  their  own  work,  which  always  makes  things  pleasanter. 

They're  not  just  people  who  walk  around;  they  were  practicing 

artists.   So  they  were  working  with  you. 

WESCHLER:   You  were  talking  about  your  own  work  there.   It 

wasn't  going  to  be  the  Bradbury  idea? 

ENGEL:   No,  it  wasn't,  because  I  felt  if  I  had  a  Bradbury  it 


would  be  a  little  too  much  for  me  at  this  stage.   I  realized 
I  wasn't  ready  when  I  was  tackling  something  that  for  me 
was  just  very  new.   So  I  started  on  a  rather  small  piece 
which  was  predicated  on  the  character  of  an  explosion,  and — 
What  was  that  first  one?   Alamogordo   or  something?   Something 
like  that  name  the  first  piece  was. 
WESCHLER:   Something  like  that,  yes. 

ENGEL:   Then  all  of  a  sudden  I  find  that  its  characteristics 
were  very  comfortable  for  me,  and  that  I  didn't  go  into  a 
terrain — what  I  call  a  hard-edge — that  I  was  really  familiar 
with  and  that  was  really  my  terrain.   At  that  time  I  went 
into  this  other  thing  which  was  loose  and  explosive.   In  a 
sense  I  was  really  feeling  my  way  with  the  medium,  and  that, 
at  that  time,  for  me  was  the  most  comfortable  idea  to  work 
with.   Later,  when  I  did  a  film  on  Look  of  the  Lithographer, 
— now,  this  was  sometime  later — but  by  then  I  was  very 
comfortable  with  the  medium.   I  relaxed  and  I  did  several 
prints  which  was  really  more  characteristic  of  my  work. 
But  that  happened  later.   So,  you  see,  when  you  go  into 
someplace  like  that  and  you're  really  new  and  you  don't 
know  and  you  almost  don't  have  a  total  simpatico,  at  that 
moment  you  really  are  not  doing  what  is  you,  but  you're 
looking,  I  think,  a  little  bit  out.   It's  a  little  bit  more 
comfortable  terrain  that  you're  working. 
WESCHLER:   Well,  let's  talk  about  The  Look  of  a  Lithographer. 


How  did  that  film  come  about?   And  how  did  you  get  involved 
in  it? 

ENGEL:   Oh,  what  happened  there,  it  began  again,  June 
started  the  film  with  a  man  by  the  name  of  Ivan  Dryer.   He 
was  on  the  premises,  he  was  almost  like  an  artist-in- 
residence,  but  he  was  not  an  artist,  he  was  a  filmmaker, 
like  a  f ilmmaker-in-residence.   And  they  worked  like  a  year 
and  a  half  or  two  years,  he  was  shooting  and  stuff  like 
that.   But  June  didn't  like  the  material.   Again,  when 
you're  dealing  with  a  man  like  Ivan,  whom  I  used  later — 
He's  a  good  photographer,  but  he  lacked  certain  ingredients, 
'cause  he  was  working  with  images,  art  images  and  stuff 
like  that,  and  he  couldn't  quite  connect.   So  then  June 
asked  me  if  I  would  like  to  come  in  and  take  the  project 
over.   I  said  okay.   Then  I  talked  to  Ivan,  and  I  saw 
footage  that  he  shot,  and  there  were  tons  of  it,  my  God. 
In  reality  June  wanted  me  to  fire  him.   Well,  how  can  I 
fire  the  man?   He's  got  dozens  of  reels.   I  mean,  I  need 
him  because  he's  the  only  one  who  knows  where  things  are, 
you  know,  I  don't  know.   He  also  knows  what's  been  shot. 
So  I  had  to  have  him.   And  he  was  a  very  nice  fellow  and  a 
very  good  photographer;  he  just  needed  a  little  more 
experience,  visual  experience  of  seeing  things.   But  he  was 
very  good.   And  see  again,  June,  not  understanding  the 
medium,  she  didn't  realize  that  this  guy  was  all  right  but 
he  just  needed  this  other  something.   So  I  came  in  and  saw 


the  film,  and  then  I  started  to  shoot  material.   The 
interesting  situation  was  that  when  I  began  to  point  out 
certain  things —  Not  that  I'd  point  out  but  I'd  say,  "We'll 
shoot  this"  and  "We'll  now  shoot  him,  we'll  get  a  close-up 
on  him."   My  God,  a  couple  of  weeks  later  he  was  doing  it 
very  well.   He  caught  on,  and  he  began  to  see  things  a  little 
different.   Like  at  the  end  you  see  all  those  people,  when 
the  artists  are  being  introduced.   Those  are  nice  shots, 
comfortable  shots.   I  began  to  do  this  sort  of  thing  in  the 
shop,  and  Ivan  is  very  good,  because  he  caught  on;  he  began 
to  open  up  his  vision,  his  visual  articulation  and  seeing 

So  then  I  think  I  worked  on  it  like  eight  weeks,  in 
total,  I  think  it  was  about  eight  weeks,  maybe  a  little 
more,  but  things  were  moving  then.   And  the  minute  I  began 
to  edit,  that's  when  I  put  things  together  that  there's  a 
flow  there.   So  then  everything  was  okay  with  June  and  with 
Ivan.   We  were  on  the  move  until  toward  the  end,  when  June 
began  to  put  a  little  more  pressure  on  the  film  because  she 
wanted  certain  things  in  a  certain  way  to  suit  her  need. 
As  I  was  a  little  more  a  poet  on  the  film,  I  didn't  want 
it  to  be  so  pedantic  and  so  obvious.   But  if  this  is  what 
she  wanted  and  this  will  work  for  her,  okay,  that's  her 
film,  she's  going  to  go  out  with  it  and  try  to  make  something 
of  it.   So  at  that  moment  I  would  pull  back  and  I  would  relax 


about  it  and  go  with  what  she  wanted.   I  think  in  total 
that  it  worked  out  pretty  well;  there  are  things  in  the  film 
today  that,  naturally,  I  would  throw  out. 

WESCHLER:   You  were  mentioning  when  you  [saw  the  film  the 
other  day] — 

ENGEL:   The  very  beginning  of  the  film,  of  these  printers 
walking  toward  Tamarind  Workshop  and  of  girls  coming  across 
the  street,  I  would  throw  all  that  stuff  out,  because  that 
looked  like  a  home  movie.   The  lights  were  bad,  and  these 
people  are  not  talkers,  not  when  they're  facing  a  camera. 
There's  a  little  problem  there.   All  that  stuff  I  would  just 
junk  today.   The  interesting  situation  was  of  course  that 
Nevelson  was  the  key  actor. 
WESCHLER:   Louise  Nevelson. 

ENGEL:   Louise  Nevelson  was  the  key  actor  in  the  film,  so 
she  gave  the  film  the  glue.   I  call  it  the  glue  that  holds 
[everything]  together  so  that  you  can  work  from  her  and  go 
away  from  her,  come  back,  you  see  her  working,  then  you 
see  somebody's  taking  her  print,  developing  her  print,  back 
to  Nevelson.   So  she  became  a  good  ingredient,  the  center 
of  the  film,  and  she  was  wonderful  to  work  with,  and  she 
enjoyed  the  adventure.   But  we  had  to  be  very  careful  with 
her  because  she,  [laughter]  she  always  wanted  to  pose.   Once 
I  asked  her  to  walk  across  the  room  and,  my  God,  she  came 
across  like  Sarah  Bernhardt.   I  said,  "No,  no,  no,  Louise, 


not  like  that,  just  natural,  natural,  like  you  are.   So 
this  is  the  terrain  of  retakes.   Sometimes  when  I  got  a 
camera  on  her  face,  she  began  to  pose.   But  the  other  people 
in  the  shop,  the  printers,  the  workers,  were  very  beautiful, 
and  they  worked  with  us.   And  there  was  no  problem,  ever. 
It  was  a  long  film.   But  I  think  if  you  look  at  the  film 
today,  for  someone  who  wants  to  go  into  lithography,  who 
wants  to  do  something  with  the  medium  and  wants  to  find 
about  mechanics  and  techniques,  I  think  it's  really  there 
in  that  sense. 

WESCHLER:   An  awful  lot  of  information. 

ENGEL:   Yeah,  really  a  lot,  and  it's  good  information.   It 
has  a  good  insight,  because  it  not  only  talks  about  the 
stone,  what  they  do  on  the  stone,  but  it  takes  you  into  the 
terrain,  talking  about  the  paper,  how  to  handle  the  paper, 
how  to  carry  it,  even  how  you  dress  for  the  job.   All  that 
stuff  is  very,  very  important. 

WESCHLER:   The  narration  is  June's,  is  that  correct? 
ENGEL:   It  was  written  by  June,  yes.   I  think  probably 
today  some  of  that  could  be  dropped  also,  because  there's 
a  lot  in  front  of  your  eyes  that  you  just  don't  need  that. 
But,  as  I  say,  you're  working  for  somebody,  and  that  some- 
body has  to  be  pleased,  and  that's  what  you're  doing.   But 
I  think  there  are  moments  in  a  film  that  are  really  lovely: 
when  they  pick  up  that  cheesecloth — remember — they  pick  up 


the  cheesecloth  and  you  look  through  it.   Things  like  that. 
WESCHLER:   And  the  grinding  of  the  stones  is  beautiful. 
ENGEL:   Oh,  that  is  very  lovely.   Ivan  was  the  photographer, 
but  I  would  pick  the  spots  for  the  point  of  view  of  the 
composition,  and  I  would  pick  up  little  things  like  you  got 
the  stone  when  wet  and  you  picked  up  the  bulb  above  in  the 
stone.   Those  are  lovely  little  moments. 

I  wanted  the  film  to  have  a  character  where  you  can 
walk  through  a  place  like  that  and  maybe  you  can  even  bump 
into  things,  and  when  you  bump  into  a  corner,  let  it  be 
there,  don't  take  it  out.   This  is  natural,  a  natural  flair 
or  texture  still  with  a  nice  sense  of  structure,  the  two 
work  together.   Because  I  did  a  film  where — I  don't  know  if 
I  mentioned  it,  I  did  a  film,  American  Sculpture  of  the 
Sixties --that  was  a  big  exhibit  at  the  Los  Angeles  County 
Museum.   And  I  had  people  coming  toward  the  camera  while  we 
were  shooting,  and  they  were  waving  and  things  like  that, 
and  I  left  that  in  the  film.   Because  what  are  you  going  to 
do,  are  you  hiding  the  camera?   And  it's  nice.   Then  I  had 
a  wonderful  shot  in  there:   I  remember  we  were  working 
here,  and  a  kid  was  outside  someplace,  he  was  coming  through 
this  glass  door  and  it  was  locked,  and  he  was  hitting  the 
window,  trying  to  get  somebody's  attention  to  open  the  door. 
I  have  that  in  the  film  also.   I  think  when  you  deal  with 
those  activities,  like  an  exhibit  or  a  Tamarind  show  or 


going  into  a  workshop,  that  little  things  happen  that  some- 
times I  think  you  should  leave  in  there,  because  then  you 
know  that  it's  being  photographed,  and  it's  something  very 
warm  and  wonderful  and  friendly,  that  sort  of  thing. 
WESCHLER:   I  wanted  to  move  on  to  some  of  the  other  litho- 
graphy workshops  you've  worked  at.   You  mentioned  both  Gemini 
and  Cirrus.   Can  you  describe  what  they  are  and  also  how 
they  were  different  from  Tamarind? 

ENGEL:   Oh,  Gemini  at  that  time —  What  was  the  name  of  that 

WESCHLER:   Ken  Tyler? 

ENGEL:   Ken  Tyler  was  running  Gemini.   And  of  course,  he 
was  from  June  Wayne.   I  think  he  had  a  lot  of  the  character- 
istics of  June's:   in  other  words,  he  ran  a  very  articulate 
and  very  well  put  together  shop  that  had  the  same  character- 
istics as  Tamarind.   In  other  words,  it  was  a  serious  work- 
shop.  Although  I  think  there  was  a  little  more  play,  because 
Ken  Tyler  can  also  have  fun,  more  than  June  Wayne  under 
the  circumstances.   But  the  shop  was  very  well  run  and  very 
serious,  very  serious.   He  himself  did  two  prints  for  me, 
and  the  working  relationship  was  good.   But  I  think  he  had 
a  lot  of  June  Wayne,  somehow  about  him.   I  also  worked  with 
him  a  little  later  when  Jasper  Johns  and  [Robert]  Rauschenberg 
and  [Frank]  Stella  was  there.   I  did  a  lot  of  still  photo- 
graphy for  him  on  these  people,  and  that  gave  me  a  little 


more  insight  to  him  and  to  the  shop,  because  I  did  spend 
quite  a  bit  of  time. 
WESCHLER:   What  kind  of  insight? 

ENGEL:   Insight  of  how  he  related  to  the  artists.   Because, 
for  instance,  with  Rauschenberg ,  the  works  were  huge,  we're 
talking  about  big,  big  shapes.   Whereas  June  never  got  near 
the  stone,  you  see,  Ken  Tyler  was  on  the  stone.   He  pulled 
the  prints,  he  did  the  work,  he  did  the  whole  damn  thing 
himself.   So  he  was  not  only  running  the  shop,  Gemini,  but 
he  himself  did  the  work.   Whereas  June  ran  Tamarind,  but 
of  course  June  never  came  near  the  stone.   I  mean,  she  was 
not  a,  like  a  master  printer,  she  could  never  function  like 
a  master  printer;  whereas  Ken  was  functioning  as  a  master 
printer,  and  his  relationship  to  the  talent,  like  Stella 
and  Jasper  Johns  and  Rauschenberg — [Claes]  Oldenburg  was 
there,  too — was  very  comfortable.   I  think  also  what  made 
it  very  comfortable  was  because  by  two  or  three  in  the 
afternoon,  these  people  were —  I  know  Jasper  Johns  and 
Rauschenberg,  they  were  by  that  time  pretty  well--how 
would  I  say  that? — they  were  very  looped,  they  were  drunk, 
ah,  not  drunk,  but  I  mean  they  were —  What's  another  good 
WESCHLER:   High? 

ENGEL:   They  were —  Well,  high  is  a  good  word,  but  I 
mean  on  liquor. 


WESCHLER:   Smashed? 

ENGEL :   Smashed!   That's  the  word.   That  was  a  new  experience 
for  me.   In  fact,  I  have  pictures  where  Jasper  Johns  is 
working  and  at  the  other  end  is  the  glass.   And  they  were 
just  drinking  straight  stuff,  you  know.   But  they  kept  up 
the  work,  and  they  never  fell  down.   But,  you  see,  this  could 
never  take  place  at  Tamarind,  because  June  would  never  allow 
bottles  of  liquor  in  the  shop  next  to  the  stone,  whereas 
Ken  had  an  ambience  that  was  quite  different:   very  serious, 
but  at  the  same  time  the  ambience  was  much  more  playful  or 
comfortable  for  these  artists. 

WESCHLER:   Was  there  tension  between  Ken  and  June  after 
Gemini  got  started? 

ENGEL:   If  there  was  a  tension,  I  really  don't  know.   I  know 
that,  from  my  point  of  view,  I  feel  that  Ken  does  not  like 
to  be  referred  to  him  as  a  Tamarind  alumni.   But,  what  the 
hell?   That  was  what  he  was,  you  know,  that's  where  he 
learned,  that's  where  he  gained  his  knowledge.   That's  why 
Tamarind  was  important,  because  it  produced  people  like  him, 
and  that  was  the  key  factor  for  Tamarind,  to  produce. 
WESCHLER:   Can  you  describe  Ken  a  little  more  specifically? 
I  don't  have  an  image.   What  does  he  look  like? 
ENGEL:   Oh,  Ken  is  a  rather  short  fellow,  short  and  sort  of 
husky.   He  likes  to  look  like  the  fashion  of  the  moment.   He 
dresses  and  has  an  appearance  almost  like  a  grand  artist. 


So  I  think  he  likes  to  get  into  the  pictures  that  way, 
because  he  does  consider  himself,  and  he  was  one  before  he 
turned  into  just  a  master  printer.   But  he  likes  to  be  on 
the  scene.   If  they're  going  to  wear  sandals,  he's  going  to 
wear  sandals;  if  they  wear  blue  jeans,  he's  going  to  wear 
blue  jeans;  if  they're  going  to  have  hair  down  to  their 
ankles,  he's  going  to  have  hair  down  to  the  ankles.   So  he 
likes  to  look  at  what  the  going  rate  is.   I  mean,  that's 
him.   But  I  always  find  him  very  friendly  and  pleasant. 
Also,  I  think  he  really  enjoys  the  printing  world:   he  enjoys 
it,  it's  part  of  his  blood,  that's  in  him.   And  this  is 
Ken.   My  relation  with  him  was  always  good  and  very  friendly 
and  warm. 

WESCHLER:   Why  did  he  leave  L.A.?   Do  you  know? 
ENGEL:   Now,  that  I  don't  know.   I  think  there  were  problems. 
There  was  a  split  between  him  and  a  partner.   Maybe  he 
wanted  to  go  back  there  to  New  York.   Because  you  got  to 
remember  that  Ken  dropped —  Really  he  dropped  all  the  what 
you  call  local  talents.   The  minute  he  got  Rauschenberg, 
everybody  was  out.   He  did  two  prints  for  me,  and  I  had  about 
six  other  drawings  ready.   'Course  he  liked  my  work,  he 
liked  my  sculptures.   In  fact  he  had  one  on  his  desk  all 
the  time.   He  had  things  going  for  me,  so  I  prepared  drawings, 
I  had  about  four  or  five  drawings  ready.   And  then  all  of  a 
sudden  he  got  this  deal  with  Rauschenberg,  and  that  was  the 


finish  of  the  local  talent.   I  think  later,  naturally,  he 
came  back  to  some  of  the  talents  that  he  worked  with,  but 
primarily  he  then  hung  onto  the  tailcoat  of  the  New  York 
scene,  because  then  came  Rauschenberg  and  Jasper  Johns, 
Oldenburg,  Stella,  and  I  think  he  was  finished  with  this 
area.   So  again,  you  see,  this  is  where  June  was  so  important 
to  Los  Angeles:   because  she  could  have  people  from  all  over 
the  world — she  did — but  she  constantly  had  people  from  here 
working  at  Tamarind.   Whereas  Ken  sort  of  put  an  end  to  that. 
So  I  was  there  with  all  those  drawings,  and  they  were  never 
printed . 

WESCHLER:   How  about  Cirrus? 

ENGEL:   Well,  Cirrus  again  was  a  product  of  Tamarind.   I 
met  him  [Jean  Milant]  at  Tamarind.   He  opened  his  shop  and 
he  did  a  lot  of  prints.   I  did  a  lot  of  prints  with  him. 
But  the  terrain  that  he  was  going  in  was  a  terrain  that 
was  much  looser  and  let's  say  more  organic  and  nothing  like 
my  work,  which  was  the  architectural,  hard-edged,  geometrical 
shape.   So  the  relationship  you  had  was  not  a  good  one.   I 
mean,  good  as  far  as  a  person  to  person,  but  I  realized 
that  this  was  not  the  terrain  that  he  enjoys,  there  was  no 
joy  in  that  for  him  (this  is  my  point  of  view) .   And  naturally 
I  don't  work  the  other  terrain.   But  I  think  his  shop  was 
good;  he's  done  some  good  things.   But,  of  course,  nothing 
like  Gemini  or  Tamarind.   It  was  much  looser,  and  it  was  more 


like  a  shop  that  an  artist  would  put  up  in  his  garage  if 

he  can  open  up  the  place.   So  that  was  another  scene,  another 

world.   But  the  work  was  good,  because  he  himself  is  a  good 

master  printer.   But,  see,  whereas  Gemini  could  go  in  any 

direction —  I  mean,  you  go  to  the  American  hard-edged  color 

field  painter.  .  .  . 

WESCHLER:   Kelly? 

ENGEL:   [Ellsworth]  Kelly,  Kelly,  you  see,  Gemini  could  go 

in  that  direction,  could  go  in  that  direction  with  [Josef] 

Albers,  no  problem.   Cirrus,  I  think  there  was  a  problem; 

it  was  something  that  was  maybe  not  difficult  but  not 

comfortable  for  him.   The  other  terrain  is  the  terrain  that 

I  think  he  enjoyed. 

WESCHLER:   What  kind  of  artists  are  in  the  terrain  that  he 


ENGEL:   Oh  boy,  I  have  a  problem  here,  because,  see,  most 

of  the  talent  that  he  was  working  with  were  new  to  me  and 

I  really--  I  don't  know  if  Stephan  Van  Huhn  had  a  print 

made  over  there  that  I  liked  and  admired,  I  think  it  was 

Stephan  Van  Huhn  who  had  this  one  print  that  I  know,  but  I 

don't  know.   I  think  he  did  something  with  Cremean  again. 

But  the  work  in  general  was  much  more  organic  and  loose. 

And  I  saw  very  little  of  the  other  kind  of  work. 

WESCHLER:   Moving  from  talking  about  the  different  printers, 

let's  talk  about  your  sense  of  lithography.   I'm  sitting 


below  a  very  impressive  one  right  here.   What  is  this  one 

ENGEL:   This  is  really  a  litho  I  like  to  call  Homage  to 
David  Smith  and  it's  very  interesting  because  there  you 
build  up  the  stone.   In  other  words,  you  put  a  piece  of 
shape  on  the  stone  which  is  like  a —  You  know  when  you  do 
woodcut?   You  take  a  piece  of  linoleum  like  that,  and  you 
put  it  in  a  stone,  and  then  things  happen,  a  lot  of  paint 
gets  into  the  crevices,  and  that  is  something  very  nice,  and 
that's  where  sometimes  things  are  accidental.   Well,  of 
course  again  in  printing,  it's  a  nice  thing  to  have  that 
happen.   Because  when  you  work  on  prints,  generally  you're 
so  articulate  that  your  drawings,  everything's  so  measured, 
it's  always  going  to  be  in.   Whereas  here  things  can  happen 
because  there  might  be  more  paint  getting  into  the  crevices 
or  less  paint  gets  into  the  crevices,  and  you're  looking 
for  that  wonderful  thing,  as  I  say,  that  I  like  to  see 
happen,  the  discoveries.   Whereas  the  other  one,  what  you 
see,  actually,  thac's — 
WESCHLER:   It's  more  geometrical. 
ENGEL:   Yeah.   And  I  like  that  but — 
WESCHLER:   What's  that  called? 

ENGEL:   I  call  them  the  New  York  Facade.  There  you  know 
pretty  damn  well  that  nothing's  going  to  happen  except 
what  you  have  on  the  paper  and  what  you  want  to  happen. 


I'm  much  more  comfortable  with  the  medium  now.   I  do  like 

it,  and  also  it's  a  wonderful  thing  to  have  twenty  at  once 

sometimes  and  not  just  one,  you  know,  it's  a  nice  feeling. 

WESCHLER:   How  does  the  lithographical  work  relate  to  the 

painting,  on  the  one  hand,  and  to  the  sculpture  and  also  to 

your  animation  work? 

ENGEL:   No,  I  don't  think  I  could  pull  animation  into  this, 

although  the  end  one  over  there,  if  you  look  at  it,  has  a 

sense  of  movement  like  those  verticals  are  running  up  and 


WESCHLER:   In  a  way,  both  of  these  remind  me  to  some  extent 

of  the  Train  Landscape  in  terms  of  the  sense  of  shape  and 

so  forth. 

ENGEL:   Yes,  well,  I  think  larger  shapes  I  work  with,  and 

I  carry  them  into  my  painting  or  into  my  prints  or  into  my 

sculptures.   But  I  don't  really  push  that  or  bring  it, 

although  even  there,  on  the  second  one,  you  see  things  grow 

from  the  top  to  the  bottom,  so  you  have  a  progression  of 

movement,  as  if  your  camera  is  picking  up  there  and  then 

comes  down. 

WESCHLER:   And  reads  that  way.   And  then  it  also  has  this 

strange  kind  of  way  of  reading,  obviously  in  perspective, 

too.   It  keeps  on  popping  back  as  though  it  is  a  building 

facade  or  something. 

ENGEL:   Yes. 


WESCHLER:   And  then  it's  kind  of  startling  to  realize  that 
it  is  very  simple  shapes  that  are  very — 

ENGEL:   Very  simple,  yeah.   But  I  think  as  the  camera  moves 
down  on  the  building — you're  up  there  and  you  move  it  down — 
this  is  what  will  happen.   In  other  words,  I  could  go  below 
this  and  see  the  bottom,  and  then  everything  would  look 
different  on  the  top.   So  I  think  once  you  work  on  film  as 
I  have  been,  which  is  a  long  time,  you  almost  instinctively 
sometimes  have  this  creeping  into  your  work.   The  continuity 
idea  gets  into  your  work  sometimes.   But  I  think  the  important 
thing  is  that  today  I'm  comfortable  with  the  medium,  I  can 
work  with  it,  and  I  don't  have  any  problems  like  I  had  at 
the  very  beginning  where  I  felt,  "Well,  when  will  I  see  a 
print?"   That  doesn't  exist  anymore.   That's  just  a  part  of 
the  process  and  I  accept  it.   [tape  recorder  turned  off] 
WESCHLER:   Well,  okay,  we've  just  been  talking  about  how 
to  end  this  tape  today.   We've  covered  a  lot  of  the  things 
you've  been  doing  in  this  very  diverse  and  sort  of  versatile 
career.   Where  are  you  today?   What  are  your  horizons  in 
terms  of  your  art? 

ENGEL:   Well,  today  I'm  of  course  very  much  involved  in 
film,  films  from  a  point  of  view  of  a  painter,  from  a  point 
of  view  of  a  graphic  artist.   Of  course,  the  magic  of  move- 
ment is  so  important  for  me.   It  always  has  been,  because 
from  the  very  beginning  I  was  very  aware  of  the  world  of 


the  dance.   That  will  always  be  a  part  of  me  and  a  part  of 
my  painting.   So  I  think  what  will  happen,  I  will  be  working 
on  films,  but  at  the  same  time  I  cannot  ever  quit  painting, 
because  I  still  have  a  big  question  in  my  head  in  front  of 
me  about  films.   As  much  as  I  do  it  and  I  enjoy  it,  the 
question  mark  is  a  big  one. 
WESCHLER:   How  so? 

ENGEL:   "Is  it  really  a  medium  of  consequence?"   Because 
I  don't  find  film  as  large  a  consequence.   Now,  I'm  not 
talking  about  abstract  films  where  you  deal  with  whether 
the  art  is  working,  but  I'm  talking  about  films  that  I've 
been  involved  in,  maybe  involved  in  tomorrow,  and  the  whole 
medium  for  me  still  looks  very  thin.   A  play,  a  good  play, 
a  well-written  play  is  timeless;  and  then,  you  see,  a 
painting  is  timeless.   I  mean,  look  at  this  situation:   A 
friend  will  say,  "I'm  going  to  see  an  old  film."   "Oh,  an 
old  film.   What  are  you  going  to  see?"   "Citizen  Kane. 
This  movie  house  shows  nothing  but  old  films."   Now,  he 
keeps  talking  abouc  this  word  old.   Now,  if  I  said  to 
him,  "I'm  going  to  see  a  Picasso  show,"  I  say,  "I'm  going 
to  an  early  Picasso  exhibit,"  or  "I'm  going  to  see  an  early 
Cezanne  show."   But  I  never  can  say  to  him  that  I'm  going 
to  go  see  "old  paintings  by  Picasso."   You  see,  so  this  is 
the  question.   It's  a  very  big  one.   Because  you  take  Citizen 
Kane,  which  is  acclaimed  as  a  picture  of  consequence,  yet 


you  refer  to  it  as  an  old  film.   And  it  is  old,  when  you 
look  at  it.   In  many  ways,  it  just  looks  like  an  old  film. 
But  you  can  go  and  see  a  Cezanne  exhibit —  I  saw  fairly 
recently  some  early  Ce2annes--and  even  now  I  mention  the 
word  early;  I  don't  see  old  Cezannes,  but  early--and 
damn  it,  it  looks  like  a  painting  that  was  done  yesterday 
and  it's  going  to  be  for  tomorrow.   This  is  a  very,  very 
important  situation  here,  of  looking  at  old  films  and 
looking  at  early  art  works. 

WESCHLER:   Films  seem  to  date  faster  than — 
ENGEL:   They  date  faster  because  they're  not  well  done. 
They  date  faster  because  the  ingredients  that  make  an  art- 
work very  special  is  not  there.   Also,  you're  dealing  with 
seeing  for  the  moment,  which,  naturally--  See,  in  film  the 
costuming,  the  clothes  date  the  film,  the  haircut  would  date 
a  film,  expressions  will  date  a  film.   But  I  think  the  total 
ingredients  of  a  film  as  a  film  art  is  not  there  yet. 
Now,  there's  nothing  wrong  with  that.   After  all,  I  mean, 
when  we're  talking  about  paintings,  we're  talking  about  four 
hundred  years  ago,  Giorgione,  I  don't  know,  four  or  five 
hundred  years  ago.   When  we're  talking  about  film,  we're 
talking  about  1920 — 1920,  nothing — we're  talking  about  1934. 
So  it's  good,  because  we're  dealing  with  an  art  form  that 
is  so  new. 

Also  there  are  a  lot  of  other  things  about  film  that 


are  still  strange.   Because  when  you  look  at  a  screen  it's 
empty;  then  you  run  a  film,  and  then  the  screen  is  empty 
again.   So  this  is  a  strange  situation.   Sometimes  if  I  see 
something  very  good  on  a  screen,  I  would  like  to  take  that 
screen  off  the  wall  and  wrap  it  up  and  take  it  home  with 
me,  you  know.   I  don't  want  another  film  on  that  screen. 
Which  is  a  horrible  thing,  you  see.   They've  already  destroyed 
something  for  me.   But  these  are  large  questions,  because 
the  character  of  the  film  is  very  mediocre,  and  also  the 
aspect  of  music.   Now  you  can  see  a  heavy  play--you  can  see 
The  Death  of  a  Salesman  on  the  stage,  and  no  matter  what 
happens,  there's  no  music.   In  other  words,  the  music  is 
not  there  to  help  the  actor.   On  a  film,  the  music  is  very 
important,  because  so  often  the  performances  are  so  bad 
that  it's  the  music  that  really  hooks  you  into  enjoying 
the  film.   So  that's  another  aspect  of  it.   As  I  say,  on 
the  stage  you  don't  have  music  to  help  the  scene,  to  help 
a  situation.   So  that's  another  strange  thing. 

Another  thing  is  also,  which  is  not  unpleasant,  but, 
you  see,  the  fact  that  you  have  music  so  often  in  a  film, 
that  means  that  it  has  a  choreographic  character,  that 
somewhere  there  is  a  dance  in  that  scene  because  the  music — 
How  often  do  you  see  people  walking  from  offices  and  you 
have  music  under  it  to  emphasize  the  walk?   Now  that's 
already  a  choreographic  character  which  the  film  takes  on. 


Then  you  have  people  like  Chaplin,  as  a  performer, 
which  is  something  very,  very  unique.   When  you're  that 
unique,  you  become  an  art  object;  not  many  actors  have  that. 
In  other  words,  Chaplin  could  turn  his  back  and  walk  away 
and  he's  still  Chaplin.   But  he's  so  unique,  therefore, 
that  he  becomes  an  object  of  art,  see?   Now,  that  is  unique. 
A  good  dancer  has  that  on  the  stage,  if  he's  that  good,  or 
she's  that  good.   They  become  something  more  than  just 
being  a  human  being.   They  become  objects  of  art,  they're 
that  good.   So  these  are  ingredients  that  art  has,  stage 
has,  but  film  doesn't  have  these  things  yet. 
WESCHLER:   Or  rarely  has  them. 

ENGEL:   Or  rarely.   Or  often  they  are  like  illustration  of 
a  text;  they  function  more  like  illustration  to  a  script. 
Now,  this  is  good —  It's  not  good  or  bad,  it's  not  important. 
But  what  is  important  for  me  [is  that]  I  find  a  mediiim  that 
has  not  arrived  yet  as  an  art  form,  whereas  the  world  of 
painting,  you  know--  You  just  never  go  to  see  old  paintings; 
you  see  early  works.   But  if  you  see  an  early  work  of  a 
film  director,  regardless  of  his  talent,  they  just  look 
like  old  films.   And  films  do  destroy  themselves,  because 
the  camera's  changing,  the  light  is  changing,  the  approach 
to  filmmaking  is  changing.   The  world  of  painting's  changing- 
you  have  cubists,  you  have  impressionists,  expressionists-- 
but  they  still  are  works  or  art  that  stand  time. 


WESCHLER:   How  about  something  like  Oskar  Fischinger's 
films?   Do  you  think  that  they'll  age  as  badly? 
ENGEL:   Well,  Fischinger  cannot  age,  because  you  take 
Study  No.  7,  you're  dealing  with  pure  lines,  you're  dealing 
with  shapes  that  are  classic.   It  has  a  classical  character: 
a  line  has  a  classical  character,  a  square  is  a  square,  a 
circle  is  a  circle.   Those  are  classical  shapes,  and  nothing 
can  destroy  those  shapes  or  forms.   Nothing  can  destroy  a 
movement,  see.   So  you're  dealing  with  something  that's 
close  to  art;  I  don't  say  I'm  going  to  see  "an  old  film  of 
Fischinger."   It's  no  old  film.   That's  an  early  film, 
because  you're  dealing  with  an  artist.   That's  the  early 
work  of  an  artist. 

WESCHLER:   That  is  the  level  of  film  that  you're  aspiring 

ENGEL:   I'm  looking  for  something  where  I  can  say,  "I'm 
going  to  see  an  early  film"  of  somebody  and  not  "an  old 
film"  of  somebody.   And  I  want  that  early  work  of  a  film- 
maker to  be  an  early  work! 

WESCHLER:   Are  we  getting  closer  to  that,  do  you  think? 
ENGEL:   No!   No  way!   No  way.   Maybe  there  are  moments. 
But  you  see,  in  film,  sometimes  when  you  see  a  film — 
Film  is  almost  a  one  shot  from  a  point  of  view  of  viewer, 
because  that  thrill  that  sometimes  you  get  out  of  a  film 
when  you  see  it  for  the  first  time,  those  brillant  little 


moments  of  diamonds,  the  second  time  they're  not  diamonds. 
They  fade,  because  that  first  experience  was  so  right,  and 
the  second  or  third  time  they  disappear.   Also,  films 
slow  down;  when  you're  working  on  a  film  and  you're  looking 
at  a  film  for  the  first  time  because  you're  editing,  you're 
putting  it  together,  there  is  time  there  and  it's  wonderful. 
The  second  time,  third  or  fourth  time--  [snaps  his  fingers] 
those  things  disappear.   Where  at  first  it  was  brilliant, 
the  second  time  you  look  at  it,  it's  not.   Because  your  in- 
take is  so  deep,  your  first  intake  is  so  deep  that  you  remember, 
Whereas  when  you  look  at  a  Cezanne  landscape,  you  can  sit 
for  one  or  two  hours  and  you  go  back  a  week  later  or  you  go 
back  six  months  later,  and  you  discover  things  1   Now,  of 
course,  somebody  would  say  you  can  discover  things  in  a  film, 
too.   But  I  don't  find  it  so.   I  still  am  going  back  and 
seeing  an  old  film,  and  I  see  an  early  Cezanne. 
WESCHLER:   So  in  your  own  work,  while  you  are  doing  film, 
you  will  also  retain  the  painting  and  other  things  as  well. 
ENGEL:   Oh,  yeah.   Because  as  I  say,  the  question  mark  is 
there,  and  it's  a  big  one.   So  you  have  a  foot  in  that, 
and  a  foot  in  other  things,  and  you  wonder  which  way.   Yet 
you  can't  help  yourself.   You're  working  in  both  directions. 

But  film  as  a  medium  for  the  painter  is  important.   It's 
a  must,  because  you  have  to  work  with  movement.   Now,  this 
movement  is  a  very  interesting  situation.   You  know,  years 


ago,  when  you  had  singers  entertain  you  on  a  stage,  they 
stood  still;  now  today  they  move — groups  are  moving.   Very 
few  singers  or  groups  will  come  on  a  stage  and  stand  still. 
So  this  aspect  of  movement  is  very  important,  and  it's  very 
much  of  our  time.   That's  why  I  think  Chorus  Line  was 
incredibly  successful,  because  people  who  went  to  musicals 
or  went  to  theater,  they  had  never  really  been  exposed  as 
if  they  had  gone  to  a  ballet.   Why  did  they  love  it?   They 
loved  it  because  it  moves.   The  first  time  on  that  stage 
when  they're  getting  into  position  and  when  they're  in 
position,  you  know —  Have  you  seen  Chorus  Line? 
WESCHLER:   Yeah. 

ENGEL:   Well,  the  first  time  they  stand  in  position  and 
all  of  a  sudden  they  turn  around  and  make  a  move,  [claps 
his  hands  together]  you  know  what  happens  in  that  theater? 
[He  gasps,  imitating  the  audience.]   Now  why?   That  was  just 
a  simple  turn  and  a  move.   There's  something  about  this 
aspect  of  movement  that  people  today  relate  to  more  than 
they  ever  have.   I  think  Chorus  Line  is  probably  the 
largest  example  of  it.   I  see  an  incredible  continuity  here 
between  the  first  Disney,  ah  "Whistle — " 
WESCHLER:   "Whistle  to — "  oh  whatever. 

ENGEL:  Yeah,  an  incredible  continuity  here  from  that 
early  Disney — I  think  1927  or  '29 — and  a  Chorus  Line. 
Because  there  for  the  first  time  people  saw  on  the  screen 


the  movement  and  sounds,  but  so  beautifully  integrated 
that  it  was  something  very  special,  you  realized  it  was 
very  special.   That's  what  happened  with  Chorus  Line  today, 
because  people  had  never  really  been  exposed  on  this  very 
popular  level  to  that  aspect  of  movement,  you  know?   So 
movement  for  me  is  very  important.   So  film  for  me  is  very 
important,  because  I  have  to  go  that  way.   In  other  words 
there  are  sometimes  when  you  have  directions  to  go  and  you 
have  no  choice. 


FEBRUARY  16,  19  7  8 

WESCHLER:   Today,  we're  here  with  you  at  your  studio  at 
Cal  Arts,  in  your  office.   Outside  there  are  many  people 
scratching  on  their  animation  boards  and  upstairs  there ' s 
a  whole  show  devoted  to  your  student's  works.   It's  a  good 
place  to  talk  more  about  animation. 

ENGEL:   Yes.   What  I'd  like  to  do  first  is  talk  about  some- 
thing that  often  people  ask  when  they  see  [my]  work.   They 
ask,  "How  come  you're  doing  this?   How  come  you're  working 
with  this  kind  of  a  straight  line,  this  kind  of  hard-edged, 
architectural  approach  to  paintings?"   It's  always  been  a 
mystery  to  people  what  makes  a  person  go  on  that  terrain. 
Generally  I  have  no  other  words  except  my  answer  has  always 
been  that  I  think  that  if  you  are  that  very  specific  in 
your  direction,  it's  because  you  had  no  choice.   You  had  no 
choice.   So  then,  how  can  you  back  that  up?   You  have  choice, 
I  mean,  you  can  say,  "You  could  change  your  mind."   But  I 
think  if  I  go  back  a  little  bit,  then  it  becomes  obvious 
that  in  the  early,  early  stage — I'm  talking  about  when  I 
was  thirteen  or  fourteen — that  certain  things  happened,  and 
now,  when  I  think  back,  it's  an  indication  of  a  direction, 
and  therefore  there  was  no  choice. 

One  of  my  early  recollections  was  that  I  was  with 
some  friends,  and  we  went  to  visit  some  people  back  in 


Budapest,  and  there  was  a  painting  on  the  wall.   The  painting 
had  a  door,  and  from  that  door  three  dogs  ran  out,  and  they 
were  in  the  air —  One  was  in  the  air,  the  other  landed,  the 
other  one  was  on  the  steps.   But  underneath  there  was  a  lot 
of  space,  and  the  space  went  back,  and  it  had  lines  on  it. 
Now,  what  was  interesting  in  retrospect  is  that  the  dog 
didn't  interest  me:   the  empty  space  to  me  was  interesting. 
That  was  what  I  was  looking  at,  the  space  that  went  way  back 
and  it  had  lines  on  it.   That  to  me  was  the  something  that 
grabbed  me,  and  I  looked  at  it.   I  never  looked  at  the  dogs; 
it  was  the  space  and  the  lines. 

And  another  interesting  experience,  again  back  in 
Budapest.   Again  I  couldn't  be  more  than  twelve  or  so;  I 
never  knew  anything  about  automobiles,  and  I  couldn't  care 
less.   I  couldn't  tell  one  from  another,  and  I  never  really 
saw  that —  It  was  something  that  moved.   I  remember  one  day 
I  came  around  a  corner,  and  there  was  an  automobile,  and  I 
stopped,  and  I  said,  "I  like  that.   This  I  like."   You  know 
what  was  that?   I  saw  the  front  of  a  Rolls-Royce.   Now,  the 
front  of  a  Rolls-Royce  was  square,  the  old  grille. 
WESCHLER:   The  grille,  yeah. 

ENGEL:   Now,  it  hit  me  so  hard  that  I  said,  "Now  that  I 
like,  I  like  that  car."   By  seeing  that  front,  that  square 
front  with  the  lines  in  the  grille,  it  again  was  something 
I  took  to.   Now  why  would  I  take  to  this  when  I  couldn't 


see  a  car?   But  the  shape,  the  design  hit  me;  there  was 
something  already  obvious. 

And  then  I  think  a  third  experience  would  be  when  I 
saw  Early  Masters,  let's  say  Rubens  or  Rembrandt  and  the 
large  portraits.   It  wasn't  the  head  that  fascinated  me, 
but  around  the  edges,  where  he  left  things  unfinished,  where 
you  could  see  the  texture  of  the  brush,  that  portion  of  it 
fascinated  meo 

Now,  you  see,  these  are  three  experiences,  and  I'm 
talking  about  when  I'm  around  twelve,  thirteen,  fourteen, 
that  that  was  the  thing  that  grabbed  me.   So  therefore  some- 
thing was  already  in  my  gut,  had  to  be,  because  at  that  age, 
why  wouldn't  I  look  at  the  faces?   But  I  looked  at  this 
unfinished  canvas,  and  even  the  surface  of  the  canvas  was 
almost  coming  through,  and  I  felt,  now  this  is  a  painting 
by  itself  that  you  could  put  a  frame  around.   So  this,  and 
the  front  of  a  Rolls-Royce  where  you  had  these  straight 
hard  edges,  hard  structure,  a  piece  of  mechanism,  that 
I  was  aware.   So  this  is  what  I  mean.   And  then,  from 
there  on,  it  just  happened  that  later  when  I  began  to  give 
it  more  thinking — now  I'm  talking  around  the  age  of  seven- 
teen or  eighteen  and  not  been  exposed  to  anything  of  what 
you'd  call  abstract  painting  of  any  kind,  of  nothing — I 
was  beginning  to  feel  and  think  that  I  could  put  a  straight 
line  or  a  circle,  or  I  could  put  anything  on  a  piece  of 


paper,  and  it  would  be  a  painting  of  itself,  of  its  own. 
It  would  have  its  life,  because  it  came  out  of  a  human 
being.   So  I  started  to  do  that  kind  of  art  work,  and  I 
mean  I'd  never  seen  anything  like  that  before,  but  the 
feeling  was  that  it's  got  to  be  right.   Now,  what's  inter- 
esting here--  Because  I  later  discovered  Kandinsky,  and 
Kandinsky  came  on  this  theory  by  coming  home  one  night, 
and  he  saw  one  of  his  paintings  upside  down,  and  he  said, 
"God,  it  looks  right."   Yet  the  content  in  that  sense  is 
gone.   And  [Frantisek]  Kupka  was  another  man  who  came  to 
his  terrain  of  nonobjective  painting  by  eliminating  more 
of  the  image,  because  he  was  almost  a  very  decorative 
illustrator  at  the  beginning.   But  they  came  through  all 
that  process  somehow,  whereas  the  thing  with  me  was  that 
I  had  none  of  that,  and  had  not  even  been  exposed  to 
contemporary  art,  and  yet  I  was  beginning  to  put  just  lines 
and  squares  and  triangles  on  a  piece  of  paper. 

So  this  is  the  way  I'd  like  to  just  explain  that  it's 
got  to  be  there  somewhere  in  the  gut.   And  when  you  are 
on  it  at  that  early  age  and  you  stay  with  it,  you  have  no 

WESCHLER:   Have  you  ever  thought  about  how  it  was  in  your 
gut  at  that  early  age?   I  mean,  were  there  were  any  kinds 
of  support  for  aesthetic  ideas  in  your  family?   It's  a 
rather  remarkable  thing  to  find  a  twelve-year-old  having 


that  interest  in  space,  or  having  that  interest  in  a  grille. 
ENGEL:   Yeah.   Well,  you  see,  at  that  age  I  had  no  idea, 
I  had  no  words  for  it,  the  grille,  or  I  had  no  words  for 
it — "it's  space" — but  it  fascinated  me,  that  feeling  of 
space  on  a  canvas.   Never  the  people:   that  was  of  no 
consequence.   It  was  always  the  space.   It's  the  feeling 
of  mood,  the  dramatic  mood  of  maybe  light  and  dark.   And 
for  that  I  have  no  answer,  none  whatsoever.   I  had  heard 
a  lot  of  music  at  that  age,  because  there  was  music  around 
the  family,  and  there  was  music  around  that  world.   In 
Europe,  you  were  exposed  to  music.   So  that  was  the  only 
thing.   But  the  art  that  I  was  exposed  to —  Naturally  you 
went  to  the  museum  and  you  saw  the  old  Masters . 
WESCHLER:   Can  you  describe  your  family  a  little  bit, 
about  what  kind  of  background  you  had. 

ENGEL:   Well,  my  family  background,  I  would  say,  was  rather 
simple;  the  only  thing  is  that  my  mother  did  play  the  piano. 
So  there  was  that  sound,  that  musical  sound.   That  was 
the  only  exposure,  let's  say,  that  came  out  of  the  family 
to  me.   Otherwise  there  was  no  other  artistic  environment. 
WESCHLER:   What  did  your  father  do? 

ENGEL:   Father  was  like  a  semi- jeweler-designer ,  but  not 
of  consequence,  and  not  of  anything  of  value.   There  were 
no  drawings  around  the  house.   It  was  probably  just  at 
work  when  he  did  that;  it  was  a  combination  of  that  kind 


of  activity  in  that  world.   But  that  did  not  expose  me 
to  any  kind  of  drawing. 

But  it  was  just  in  the  head,  so  that  when  I  was  in 
high  school,  for  instance,  Emerson  High  School,  and  every- 
body had  to  go  out  on  the  field  to  draw  the  trees  and  land- 
scapes, I  told  the  teacher--her  name  was  Miss  Goff — I 
said,  "I  would  rather  just  stay  in  the  room  and  make  my 
own  drawings  and  not  have  to  look  at  trees  for  that  purpose." 
And  I  don't  know  what  prompted  her  to  agree  with  me,  because 
she  said,  "You  can  just  stay  in  the  room  and  do  your  drawings," 
whereas  everybody  else  had  to  go  out  on  the  field  and  do 
the  landscapes.   Even  at  that  time  I  just  couldn't  under- 
stand why  I  had  to  look  at  something  to  make  something  on 
a  paper  of  artistic  value. 

Now,  again,  I  can't  explain  these  things,  but  this  is 
what  I  mean  when  you  have  no  choice.   You're  going  on 
something  that  is  absolutely  unexplainable .   Now  there  is 
such  a  thing  that  you  could  say  therefore  that  I'm  a 
primitive,  because  I  didn't  come  out  of  studying  Kandinsky 
or  by  studying  Kupka  or  the  Bauhaus  or  Klee.   So  then  you 
could  say,  "Maybe  he's  a  primitive."   Whether  it's  good  or 
bad  I  don't  know.   But  these  are  the  principles  that  some- 
times guide  a  person  into  a  terrain  that  you  can't  always 
explain.   Or  you  say,  "He  did  that  because  Picasso  was 
doing  a  cubist  painting." 


That  is  something  I  just  wanted  to  put  down  on  paper 
as  a  record,  and  for  what  value  I  don't  know.   But  there  it 
is . 

WESCHLER:   When  did  you  first  encounter  Kandinsky?   Can 
you  describe  your  feelings? 

ENGEL:   Yes,  I  encountered  Kandinsky  in  Los  Angeles  one 
day,  and  it  was  a  tremendous  influence. 
WESCHLER:   Under  what  circumstances? 

ENGEL:   I  think  he  had  an  exhibit  on  Wilshire  Boulevard 
someplace.   I  think  Hillary  Bay  was  there  as  I  vaguely 
remember.   And  for  the  first  time  I  saw — 
WESCHLER:   What  era  would  this  be? 

ENGEL:   Oh,  I  think  it  had  to  be  around  '39,  I  think  '39 
or  '38.   I  saw  Kandinsky  for  the  first  time,  and  then  I 
realized  that  my  thinking,  or  whatever  I  was  doing,  was 
really  okay,  because  there  it  is  on  the  walls,  and  it's 
real,  you  know? 

WESCHLER:   Did  he  have  a  reputation  in  Los  Angeles?   Had 
it  reached  out  here  that  Kandinsky  was  important?   Or  was 
he  a  relative  unknown  at  that  time? 

ENGEL:   I  think  he  probably  had  a  presence  with  painters, 
but  I  think  it  was  some  kind  of  a  strange  situation  that 
Hillary  Bay —  I  don't  know  what  was  the  contact,  how  she 
came  to  this  city.   But  there  was  the  exhibit,  and  how  I 
even  got  there  or  who  told  me  to  go  there,  I  don't  even 


recall  that.   But  there  it  was,  and  for  the  first  time  I 
realized  that  such  art  existed.   Because  up  to  that  moment 
I  would  hide  my  work  and  really  not  show  it  to  anyone, 
although  then  much  later  you  know  I  showed  the  work  to  Oskar 
Fischinger.   But  it  was  still  at  the  very,  very  beginning. 
By  that  time  I  knew  that  such  things  existed.   But  it's 
way  before  that,  those  experiences  that  I  think  are  of 
consequence.   So  therefore,  as  I  say,  sometimes  you  have 
no  choice,  you  know,  no  choice. 

WESCHLER:   Have  you  ever  looked  back  and  thought  about  what 
it  would  be  like  had  you  gone  a  different  route? 
ENGEL:   Looking  back,  no,  I  couldn't  have.   I  could  not 
have  gone  another  route,  because  that  particular  direction 
of  feeling  was  so  strong  that  I  had  absolutely  no  desire, 
for  instance,  even  to  pick  up  a  pencil  and  try  and  draw 
somebody.   Although  I  did  go  to  life  classes  and  did  some 
life-study  work  in  class.   But  it  was  to  me  something  I 
pushed  myself,  because  I  felt  I  should  do  that  because 
everybody  does  it,  it  has  to  be  done.   But  I  could  never 
get  into  any  kind  of  a  real  effort  to  make  that  thing 
important.   'Cause  I  always  felt  that  that's  not  me,  that's 
not  me,  and  I'd  have  to  go  back  to  just  drawing  those 
straight  lines  and  circles  and  have  this  kind  of  activity 
on  a  canvas.   That  to  me  always  felt  right,  felt  good. 
Even  now  I  might  draw  a  little  bit,  but,  you  know,  throw 


the  pencil  away.   It's  like  drinking  something  that  doesn't 
taste  good  and  you  spit  it  out.   That's  me.   Because  I  know 
another  person  next  to  me  can  be  drawing  away,  and  I  can 
admire--!  do  admire  other  works,  you  know,  there's  no 
problem  there — but  when  I  get  to  the  canvas  or  a  paper,  I 
cannot  do  that  other  work  with  any  kind  of  conviction  and 
generally  I  always  end  up  by  just  tearing  it  or  just  throwing 
the  pencil  down.   And  this  is  I  think  something  that's  very 
special  and  very  beautiful,  because  often  you  hear  other 
people,  other  artists —  I  heard  Jacques  Tati  when  they 
asked  him  why  did  he  do  comedy,  and  Tati  faced  the  whole 
audience  at  the  academy  and  said,  "I  had  no  choice."   And 
I  heard  that  from  several  people.   In  fact,  I  made  notes 
at  one  time,  about  six  or  seven  pianists,  very  famous  jazz 
pianists  and  some  other  people,  and  it  was  interesting: 
they  all  came  up  with  that  answer.   'Cause  they  said, 
"How  come  you  didn't  go  into  classical  music — Brahms, 
Schubert,  Bach — why  do  you  do  this?"   I  forgot  his  name, 
the  very  famous  jazz  pianist-- 
WESCHLER:   Dave  Brubeck? 

ENGEL:   Somewhere  of  that  area,  and  that  person  again  said, 
"I  have  no  choice."   So  I'm  not  the  only  one  who  ends  up 
at  that  conclusion. 

WESCHLER:   Can  you  describe,  by  the  way,  your  work  method 
when  you're  working  on  an  animated — 


ENGEL:   Abstraction? 

WESCHLER:   Abstraction.   I  mean  how  do  you  actually  work? 
Do  you  work  in  the  morning,  do  you  work  in  the  evening? 
How  long  do  you  work  at  a  time?   What's  it  like? 
ENGEL:   So  then  this  work,  this  abstract  work  eventually 
goes  on  into  animation.   By  that  I  mean  it  had  to  go  into 
movement.   I  generally  have  an  idea,  and  sometimes  I  make 
a  continuity  board  where  I  might  plan  this  thing  step  by 
step.   But  I  always  give  enough  space  or  time  that  if  I 
want  to  change  anywhere  in  the  middle,  although  I  have  a 
structure  there,  I  can  change.   And  if  I  change,  then  I 
let  that  thing  happen  and  go  until  it  exhausts  itself 
before  I  get  back  to,  let's  say,  the  continuity  that, 
originally,  I  planned. 

I  like  to  work  in  the  mornings.   That's  my  best 
time.   I  can  sit  down  at  seven  o'clock  and  do  work  maybe 
until  one,  two,  or  three  in  the  afternoon.   For  me  that's 
the  best  time,  for  me.   And  then  during  the  day  or  any 
other  time,  if  I  have  ideas,  I  sketch  them  down,  I  make 
notes.   It  can  come  from  many  sources,  although  when  you 
see  the  material,  it's  pure  abstraction.   But  the  inspiration 
could  come  from  various  places,  could  come  from  listening 
to  a  good  play.   I  remember  when  I  saw  Uncle  Vanya  in 
New  York  with  George  C.  Scott,  the  rhythm  of  the  speech 
was  so  special  that  that  turned  me  on,  just  turned  me  on  to 


wanting  to  do —  By  "wanting  to  do"  I  don't  mean  I  copy 
or  interpret,  but  it  turns  me  on  "to  do."   And  then  I 
sit  down  and  get  into  motion.   But,  as  I  say,  that  some- 
times for  me  is  something  that  motivates  me.   Or,  then,  of 
course,  my  paintings,  ideas  come  from  my  paintings  or  maybe 
other  paintings  that  I  see  that  might  kick  up  an  idea  for 
me  for  an  abstract  film. 

WESCHLER:   One  of  the  things  I  was  really  struck  by  in 
your  abstract  films  that  I  saw  was  how  they  felt  like 
thinking.   I  mean,  they  had  that  process  of  transformation 
that  is  like  a  person  thinking  about  shapes,  movement  and 
so  forth.   You  mentioned  that  you  can  change  while  you  go 
along,  but  generally  do  you  have  the  whole  idea  for  the 
film  almost  in  reels  in  your  head  that  you  then  work  out 
on  paper,  or  do  you  get  the  ideas  as  you're  working  with 
the  paper? 

ENGEL:   Some  segments  I  would  have  in  my  head,  some  segments 
Others,  I  work  out.   And  other  areas  I  leave  it — it's 
like  an  open  end — I  leave  these  things  to  happen.   Or  let's 
say  you  move  into  a  direction  that  you  would  never  even 
know  is  there,  but  by  moving  in  that  direction,  you  open 
up  another  avenue  of  ideas.   That's  why  it  is  good  to  be 
open-ended.   But  when  I  finish,  it's  got  to  have  a  sense 
of  structure.   Not  necessarily  a  beginning,  a  middle,  and 
an  end,  but  it  still  has  a  sense  of  structure,  so  that  you 


feel  a  sense  of  completion,  or  it  ends.   I  think  in  these 
abstract  films,  it's  really  important  the  way  you  start, 
and  I  think  it's  even  more  important  sometimes  the  way  you 
go  out.   It's  as  important  as  how  a  person  on  the  stage 
leaves  a  stage:   you  can  leave  a  stage  and  yet  you'll 
still  be  there  for  some  time  before  you're  out.   And  that 
aspect  of  it  will  be  also  in  my  film  at  the  very  end.   It's 
got  to  be  that  way.   And  that  is  in  a  sense  the  structure. 
WESCHLER:   And  that  sense  of  structure  is  there  from  the 
start,  do  you  think?   Or  it  becomes  apparent  as  you're 
working  on  it? 

ENGEL:   Some  of  it  is  there  from  the  beginning,  and  some 
of  it  will  just  present  itself.   Because  I  think  the 
beautiful  aspect  is  that  you  must  discover  something  while 
you're  in  work.   You've  got  to  discover  new  ideas  and  new 
avenues.   Otherwise  you  lock  yourself  in  and  nothing's 
going  to  happen  except  what  you  already  planned.   But  I 
like  to  discover  these  other  ideas  or  shapes  of  forms, 
gestures,  by  always  leaving  time  and  space  for  you. 
WESCHLER:   Do  you  find  that  your  initial  inspirations  for 
films  take  the  form  of  something  like  a  premise  for  a 
film,  like  "In  this  film  I'm  going  to  retain  this  triangle 
through  various  permutations?   Is  it  that  kind  of  verbal 
premise,  or  is  it  something  that's — 
ENGEL:   No,  I  think  it's  something  that  should  be  that  way: 


You  work  with  the  same  image  and  you  bring  it  back,  you 
send  it  away,  bring  it  back  from  another  point  of  view  and 
give  that  shape  other  opportunities.   Because  it  makes  all 
the  difference  whether  a  shape  comes  in  from  the  top,  goes 
in  the  side  or  comes  in  from  the  bottom,  or  goes  back  into 
space,  comes  back  in  front  of  you  from  space.   This  aspect 
of  repeat  is  very  important,  because  it's  very  important 
in  music:   you  repeat  the  melody,  you  repeat  the  tune. 
This  I'm  very  aware  of,  and  that  is  why  I  repeat.   Dancers 
do  that:   they  do  the  same  step  or  several  steps,  and  some- 
time later  they  come  back  and  they  do  the  same  step  again. 
I  think  that's  very  beautiful.   It  makes  the  whole  thing 
more  together,  it's  structure. 

WESCHLER:   It's  definitely  the  case  that  in  your  animation 
abstracts  that  I  saw  the  other  day,  when  a  shape  leaves 
your  space,  leaves  the  frame,  you  have  a  definite  sense  of 
its  presence  out  there  waiting  to  come  back  in;  or  if  it 
doesn't  come  back  in —  It's  not  at  all  just  what  goes  on 
in  the  frame;  it's  as  though  the  whole  room  becomes  filled 
with  it. 

ENGEL:   Yeah,  because  when  you  work  on  a  film,  you  have  to 
immediately  realize  that  although  you're  working  for  a 
canvas  which  is  immediately  in  front  of  you,  but  in  film 
there  is  a  space,  the  canvas  is  endless.   So  whether  it's 
right,  left,  top,  or  bottom,  the  space  is  there,  and  the 


space  is  around  the  canvas.   I  say  canvas ,  I  should  say 
screen.   Everytime  I  move  anything,  if  it  goes  out  a 
certain  way,  it  also  sometimes  has  a  natural  rhythm  which 
has  to  turn  around.   It  has  no  choice,  'cause  the  way  it 
goes  out,  it  will  come  back  in  a  certain  way.   It  has  to 
reappear.   Therefore  when  something  goes  off  the  screen, 
it's  either  waiting  in  the  wings,  because  then  it  comes  to 
a  total  stop,  or  the  going  out  has  such  rhythm  and  style 
that  it  has  no  choice  because  it's  going  to  make  a  turn 
outside  the  screen  and  come  back  again.   Oh  yes. 
WESCHLER:   Do  you  have  fantasies  of  the  turns  and  so  forth 
that  are  going  on  off  the  screen  that  you  aren't  drawing? 
As  you  have  several  shapes  go  out,  do  you  imagine  the 
pirouettes  that  are  going  on? 

ENGEL:   Oh  yes,  because  when  I  design  and  I  have  a  screen, 
if  a  shape  is  going  that  way,  then  I  know  that  the  natural 
rhythm  will  be  here:   it  either  comes  in  here  or  it  can 
come  here,  but  I  already  establish  a  natural  rhythm.   Now, 
if  I  have  something  that  goes  up,  chances  are  that  that 
might  go  up  to  infinity  and  that  can  go  away,  or  it  can 
stop  and  wait  in  the  wings.   But  if  I  have  any  kind  of  a 
rhythm,  obvious  rhythm,  then  that  rhythm  has  a  life  out 
there,  so  it  has  to  come  back.   So  I'm  very  aware  of  this 
aspect  of  it,  which  I  call  natural  rhythm. 
WESCHLER:   Looking  at  the  walk  that  we  took  upstairs  in 


your  space,  what  we  had  were  several  pages  from  your 
animation  that  were  hung  on  the  wall  almost  as  if  they 
were  drawings  themselves,  to  be  looked  at  as  paintings  or 
drawings.   How  do  you  think  generally  animation  should  be 
read  when  it's  in  a  situation  like  that,  when  you're  showing 
your  stuff  up  there? 

ENGEL:   I  think  when  you  see  animation  in  continuity, 
which  already  is  in  the  work,  and  this  is  a  by-product  of 
a  film,  I  think  you  should  be  able  to  enjoy  them,  some- 
times separately.   Sometimes  they  become  a  piece  of  art; 
sometimes  I  take  a  piece  from  that  and  make  it  into  a  large 
drawing  or  a  large  painting.   But  also  I  think  it  has  more 
presence  in  total  continuity  when  you  see  the  progression 
and  you  see  the  process  of  movement;  I  think  then  it  has 
a  life  of  its  own.   Because  if  you  take  out  a  single 
drawing  it  is  a  complete  item,  that's  it.   But  when  you  see 
a  group,  then  you  have  an  idea  that  that  one  drawing  is  of 
no  consequence.   The  fifty  is  of  consequence. 
WESCHLER:   Do  you  see  yourself--  This  is  kind  of  a  silly 
question  but  it  leads  into  a  whole  other  set  of  questions. 
Do  you  see  yourself  as  an  artist  who  makes  films  or  as 
filmmaker  who  does  paintings,  or-- 

ENGEL:   I  think  I  see  myself  as  an  artist  who  works  into 
the  film  world.   It  had  to  come  first.   I  mean,  for  me  it 
had  no  other  way.   The  drawing  aspect  of  it,  the  design  of 


it,  it  came  first,  and  then  film  was  the  next  natural  step, 
because  so  much  of  that  stuff  has  a  feeling  of  movement 
in  it.   And  also  it  was,  let's  say,  also  part  of  me.   My 
first  exposure  to  art  was  through  the  ballet,  so  that  was 
a  very  important  moment  for  me.   But  the  drawing  had  to 
eventually  move,  it  had  to  go  someplace. 

WESCHLER:   And  yet  throughout  this  whole  process  of  moving 
into  animation,  you've  retained  your  painterly  side  and 
your  lithography  and  so  forth  as  another  facet.   How  do  you 
see  those  two  related  to  each  other?   You  mentioned  that 
occasionally  you  take  images  from  your  films  and  work  them 
out  in  painting.   Does  it  work  the  other  way  also? 
ENGEL:   No,  but  mostly  when  you  work  with  animation  and 
you  work  with  shapes  and  you  move  them  around  logically, 
which  is  the  natural  rhythm,  the  natural  turn,  then  you 
come  upon  compositions  which  you  could  no  way  get  there, 
no  [other]  way  that  you  could  get  them. 

WESCHLER:   As  an  example  of  the  things  that  you  couldn't 
anyway  get  to,  you  showed  me  some  geometrical  shapes  that 
started  out  to  be  in  animation  but  just  weren't  going  to 
make  it  as  animation. 

ENGEL:   No,  it  was  much  too  complicated  and  much  too 
difficult,  and  I  just  couldn't  really  go  with  that.   But 
I  came  on  some  wonderful  images,  and  I  made  those  images 
into  prints.   Again,  that's  the  beauty  of  this  thing: 


these  two  mediums  help  each  other,  they  give.   Because  here 
I'm  working  on  animation  and  I  arrive  at  ideas  that  I  can 
turn  into  art  work  as  separate  objects  or  pieces  by  them- 
selves.  So  they  give  to  each  other. 

WESCHLER:   I  think  later,  at  the  last  session,  we'll  look 
at  the  specific  art  pieces,  paintings  and  so  forth,  and 
talk  in  detail  about  structure  and  so  forth.   But  it  would 
be  helpful  for  me,  independent  of  talking  about  them,  to  talk 
about  the  history  of  your  relations  with  dealers  and  that 
kind  of  thing.   I  think  it  would  be  helpful  for  people. 
ENGEL:   Yeah. 

WESCHLER:   I  noticed  in  looking  at  your  resume  that  you 
particularly  had  dealer  relationships  with  Paul  Kantor 
and  Esther  Robles. 

ENGEL:   Yes,  I  had  a  dealer  relationship  with  Paul  Kantor; 
that  was  my  first  gallery. 

WESCHLER:   Can  you  talk  a  little  bit  about  him  and  about 
the  shows  that  you  did  there? 

ENGEL:   Well,  Paul  was  the  first  one  on  the  Los  Angeles 
scene  that  was  showing  contemporary  art  work.   He  was  a 
difficult  person.   I  think  he  still  is,  but  he  was  good 
for  Los  Angeles  because  he  opened  up  the  whole  terrain.   I 
think  I  had  about  six  or  seven  one-man  shows  with  him.   He 
always  had  a  lot  of  simpatico  for  the  work;  he  liked  the 
work,  and  the  relationship  was  good  between  us.   But  Paul 


also  had  other  ideas,  and  I  think  the  stock  market  was  one 
of  those  big  items. 
WESCHLER:   How  so? 

ENGEL:   Well,  I  think  he  was  beginning  to  buy  a  lot  of 
stocks.   Then  things  began  to  happen  to  him  which  was  not 
very  pleasant,  because  it  just  made  him  so  damn  nervous 
that  he  began  to  itch.   That  lasted  for  a  couple  of  years. 
But  I  think  he  helped  the  city  in  the  sense  that  he  brought 
really  contemporary  art  on  the  scene.   He  was  one  of  the 
first  ones  that  had  a  large  presence.   But  the  thing  about 
Paul  was  that  he  never  really  promoted  anybody.   He  was 
not  like  the  New  York  dealers,  where  they  had  artists  and 
they  would  see  that  the  artist  would  have  a  chance  to  go 
to  other  museums,  or  take  the  whole  exhibit  and  make  sure 
that  exhibit  would  go  to  universities.   Maybe  it  was  too 
early  for  Los  Angeles  to  think  that  way.   But,  anyway  we 
never  had  that.   It  was  always  just  have  the  show,  have 
the  exhibit,  which  lasted  approximately  a  month,  then  the 
exhibit  would  come  down,  and  then  he  would  hold  maybe  half 
a  dozen  pieces  for  sales  after  the  exhibit  would  come  down. 
But  we  never  had  any  plans,  any  ideas  of  how  to  make  the 
next  step,  where  to  take  this  material.   It  really  just 
came  off  the  wall  and  went  into  the  closet. 
WESCHLER:   You  describe  him  as  difficult.   Can  you  flesh 
that  out  a  little  bit? 


ENGEL:   Well,  you  know,  you  don't  want  to  be  unpleasant 
about  it,  but  he  was  very  difficult.   By  that  I  mean  that 
he  really  never  had  much  good  or  friendly  comment  about 
other  people.   I  don't  know  what  made  Paul  the  way  he  was, 
but  he  was  always  more  tearing  people,  clawing  people,  and 
not  where  he  would  build  a  person  or  try  to  develop  or 
encourage.   That  was  not  there.   In  fact,  I  think  that  was 
a  reason  I  had  to  leave,  because  to  go  in  there  on  week- 
ends or  other  times  and  not  hear  something  where  he  would 
be  building,  it  becomes  very  tiring  and  frustrating,  and 
eventually  I  had  to  move. 

WESCHLER:   Do  you  think  he  was  a  powerful  force  in  the 
city  besides  with  the  people  he  dealt  with? 
ENGEL:   I  think  he  became  very  powerful. 
WESCHLER:   In  what  way? 

ENGEL:   Both  as  a  dealer  and  also  as  a  connoisseur,  and 
also  I  think  people  were  beginning  to  trust  him  to  recommend 
paintings  to  buy.   I  think  when  he  had  his  first  big 
[Ernst  Ludwig]  Kirchner  show,  I  think  that  was  practically 
a  sell-out.   It  was  a  big  Kirchner  show,  and  I  think  that 
really  set  Paul  up  big.   I  think  after  that  he  became 
somebody  that  serious  collectors  would  talk  to,  ask  him 
advice.   Eventually  he  became  a  legend  practically,  sometime 
much  later.   Because  if  you  look  at  him  in  a  few  years,  a 
comparatively  few  years,  look  where  he's  at.   I  mean  he's 


out  there  at  Sotheby  [ Parke  Berne t] ,  buying  Degas  and 

Cezanne  drawings  for  collectors.   He's  had  to,  because 

he  bought  two  or  three  drawings  which  ran  over  a  half 

million  dollars.   So  he's  established  himself. 

WESCHLER:   Was  he  as  gruff  with  his  collectors  as  he  was 

with  everyone  else? 

ENGEL:   I  think  he  was  in  general,  maybe  until  he  found 

out  that  there  was  something  very  lucrative  there.   Because 

generally  people  would  come  in  the  gallery,  and  often  they 

left  and  said,  "That's  the  last  time,  no  more!"   Oh  yes. 

And  so  this  is  what's  interesting  about  him:   he  was  that 

difficult  and  rough,  and  still  he  maintained  a  presence 

that  grew  into  large  importance. 

WESCHLER:   Do  you  have  any  particular  anecdotes  about  things 

he  said,  things  that  come  to  mind? 

ENGEL:   No,  I  don't  have  anything  at  the  moment.   But  he  had 

a  very  good  eye.   He  had  a  very  good  head  and  a  good  eye, 

because  I  remember  I  think  they  went  into  hock  to  buy  a 

de  Kooning  and  either  a  [Theodore]  Stamos  or  a  [William] 

Baziotes.   I  mean,  really,  to  go  and  borrow  money  from  a 

bank  to  buy  those  things,  you've  got  to  have  some  insight. 

And  this  he  had,  because,  after  all,  he  came  into  the  art 

from  the  newspaper--he  was  writing  for  the  cannery  [workers 

union] — and  from  that  he  moved  into  opening  the  gallery. 

So,  again,  you  see,  you  had  that  something  that  you  can't 


explain,  and  it  was  there.   Because  he  put  on  the  first 
[Richard]  Diebenkorn  show. 

WESCHLER:   Was  Josephine  Kantor  part  of  the  operation 

ENGEL:   Yes,  Josephine,  his  wife,  was  very  much  part  of 
the  operation.   In  fact,  this  is  a  good  story.   [laughter] 
We  were  up  at  one  of  his  collectors.   Josie  had  a  habit  of 
getting  kind  of  drunk,  and  when  she  got  that  way,  she  would 
just  say  anything.   I  remember  we  were  sitting  at  this  bar 
of  this  friend  who  had  a  lot  of  paintings  from  the  Paul 
Kantor  Gallery,  and  Paul  was  just  going  on,  talking  about 
art  and  all  that  stuff.   And  then  he  stopped,  and  Josie 
just  looked  and  said,  "You  fucking  philosopher.   That's 
what  you  are,  a  fucking  philosopher."   [laughter]   And  it 
was  so  funny,  you  know,  because  here  we  are  sitting  in 
mixed  company,  and  Josie — just  pow  [still  laughing]  blasting 
him.   At  the  same  time  it  was  very  cute  and  very  funny,  but 
it  was  so  honest!   I  think  she  was  a--what  do  you  call?-- 
a  sensitive  person,  very  sensitive.   It's  again —  Where 
the  hell  did  that  come  from?   Because  I  remember  when  I 
first  met  them  they  lived  somewhere  near  Exposition  [Park] , 
somewhere  near  the  museum,  and  I  think  their  room  was  not 
much  bigger  than  this,  or  maybe  a  little  bigger.   The 
kitchen  was  that  big.   And  they  had  one  reproduction  of  a 
Picasso  on  the  wall.   That  was  their  total  art,  you  know? 


And  yet  at  that  time  we  were  already  going  to  galleries 
together,  you  know  what  I  mean? 
WESCHLER:   Right. 

ENGEL:   And  here's  this  one  lousy  reproduction  of  a  Picasso 
on  the  wall.   The  whole  thing  started  with  that. 
WESCHLER:   Why  do  you  suppose  he  stayed  in  Los  Angeles  if 
he  had  so  much  contempt  for  the  local  scene? 

ENGEL:   I  think  he  went  to  New  York,  and  he  lived  there  and 
all  that.   But  in  New  York  there's  another  type  of  human 
being,  and  I  think  after  about  two  or  three  years,  I  think 
about  two  or  three  years,  he  came  back.   I  think  the  way 
people  are  out  here,  whatever  that  is,  the  chemistry  was 
just  working  better  for  him.   He  came  back;  he  didn't  like 
New  York.   New  York  is  quite  different;  I  think  you  need 
much  more  sophistication,  and  I  think  you —  He  had  no 
manners,  you  know,  not  really,  and  I  think  in  New  York 
you've  got  to  have  that.   He  just  didn't  like  the  scene, 
although  he  thought  that  would  be  for  him,  because  by  that 
time  he  became  a  private  dealer.   It  turned  out  to  be  not 
the  place  for  him.   So  there  is  a  difference,  a  texture 
difference  between  the  New  York  crowd  and  what  we  have  out 
here,  which  is  very  primitive.   And  a  lot  of  it  is  not 
honest,  this  feeling  for  art — it's  not  really  honest. 
WESCHLER:   You  mean  in  New  York? 
ENGEL:   No,  here:   it's  not  really  honest.   Not  that  you 


don't  have  some;  you  do,  you  know.   But  we're  talking 
generalities.   There  are  just  some  kinds  of  people  who 
just  have  to  buy  things  because  either  it's  going  to  make 
them  look  important  or  because  it  costs  a  lot  of  money, 
but  it's  not  really  to  live  with.   Whereas  in  New  York  I 
met  a  lot  of  people,  and  they  love  it,  it's  their  life, 
you  know?   They  wouldn't  let  a  painting  go  out  of  their 
apartment,  because  it  would  be  just  like  a  child  lost  out 
there  someplace.   That's  something  that's  an  honest,  honest 
love  for  art. 

WESCHLER:   Does  it  bother  you  when  a  work  of  yours  is 
bought  by  someone  who  you  don't  feel  is  going  to  really 
appreciate  it? 

ENGEL:   Oh  yes,  yeah.   In  fact  I  have  turned  down  a  lot 
of  opportunities  like  that.   Not  even  mentioning  names, 
but  I  remember  some  time  back  when  this  man  wanted  to  buy 
paintings  from  me,  and  I  kept  telling  him,  "You  don't  like 
my  work;  you're  gonna  buy  because  I'm  a  friend,  and  that's 
no  good.   That's  absolutely  no  good."   So  I  have  a  very 
strong  point  of  view  on  that. 

WESCHLER:   The  other  major  dealer  you  had  here  was  Esther 
Robles . 

ENGEL:  Esther  Robles,  yes.  From  Paul  I  went  to  Esther 
Robles.  They  were  very  pleasant  people,  but  I  think  my 
work  has  not  much  simpatico.   This  kind  of  work  that  I  was 


always  working  with  is  kind  of  a  hard-edged,  almost 
architectural  approach.   The  simpatico  is  not  really  here. 
It's  never  been  really  popular  with  a  lot  of  people,  let 
me  put  it  that  way.   But  I  think  not  much  here  either. 
The  Robles  are  very  nice.   They  are  people  who  are  very 
sweet  and  nice  to  be  with,  and  they  were  very  gentle  people 
and  all  that.   But  again,  I  don't  know  why  they  went  into 
the  gallery —  Because  it  was  business,  I  guess,  but  that 
other  texture  was  missing  again.   Again  the  same  thing 
happened  as  with  the  others:   you  put  up  the  exhibit  and 
it  came  down.   You  put  up  forty  paintings,  and  the  exhibit 
is  over,  and  it  went  in  the  back  into  the  closet.   You  see, 
again,  there  is  no  movement,  there's  no  motion.   It  doesn't 
have  the  professional  presence  like  a  New  York  dealer.   A 
New  York  dealer,  when  you  have  a  show,  they  want  to  make 
sure  that  this  exhibit  will  go  travel  someplace,  so  they 
call  up  people  and  say,  "Come  on  in;  I  have  something  to 
show  you."   There's  a  commitment.   And  again,  you  see,  with 
the  Robles  it  was  just  putting  it  up  and  taking  it  down. 
It  always  was  like  a  dead  end. 

WESCHLER:   Are  there  any  dealers  in  Los  Angeles  that  had 
the  kind  of  intensity  that  New  York  dealers  have  had  over 
the  years? 

ENGEL:   I  think  maybe  the  best  person  was  at  one  time  Felix 
Landau.   I  think  Felix  had  that  feeling.   And  then  later  on 


this  other  fellow  came,  Blum,  David  Blum, 
WESCHLER:   Irving  Blum. 

ENGEL:   Irving  Blum.   But  by  that  time  I  think  the  whole 
scene —  See,  then,  it  took  on  a  whole  different  character. 
By  then  people  were  New  York-wise,  and  all  of  a  sudden  that 
thing  that  had  never  ocurred  to  us  before  now  began  to  take 
the  scene;  all  that  is  important,  you  know.   But  I  think 
Felix,  because  he  was  before  Irving  Blum,  he  had  that  some- 
thing, you  felt  that.   But  Irving  Blum,  I  think,  was  the 
first  one  who  was  really  working  on  that  way.   But  then, 
you  see,  the  whole  scene  changed,  the  whole  art  scene.   Art 
became  important.   You  became  a  celebrity  all  of  a  sudden. 
Art  meant  big  money.   And  now  the  publications  were  beginning 
to  come  out  from  New  York.   Now  you  have  Stella  and  Noland 
and  Jasper  Johns  coming  on  the  scene;  and  all  of  a  sudden, 
it  explodes.   So  I'm  using  the  experience  of  New  York-wise, 
of  knowing  that  you  have  to  go  there.   Whereas  when  I  had 
exhibits  at  the  Whitney  Museum  or  at  the  Chicago  Art  Institute, 
we  would  never  think  of  going  there,  to  be  there,  you  know? 
But  see,  then  it  changed,  when  you  realized,  you've  got  to 
be  there,  I  mean  you  have  to  go.   So  you  see  what  took 
place.   That  took  place.   That's  why  so  often  you  hear 
people  say,  "Nothing  happened  here  before  1960."   A  lot  of 
things  happened  here,  but  what  happened  was  very  naive,  and 
very  simple,  and  very  honest.   But  it  changed.   And  then 


you  realized  that  oh-oh,  oops,  you  made  a  mistake,  you 
should  have  gone  to  Chicago  [laughter] ,  you  should  have 
gone  to  New  York  when  you  were  at  the  Whitney. 
WESCHLER:   You  did  go  back  to  New  York. 

ENGEL:   Oh  much  later,  but  not  when  I  first  was  exhibiting 

WESCHLER:   Was  it  partly  the  pressure  of  this  need  to  be 
in  New  York  that  made  you  go  back? 

ENGEL:   No,  later  on  I  wanted  to  go  back.   I  realized  the 
changes,  the  necessity,  that  it  had  to  be,  you  had  to  go 
back.   If  you  had  an  exhibit,  you  should  be  there  at  least 
ten  days  before  so  you  had  a  chance  to  meet  the  people. 
Also,  the  New  York  dealers  function  different,  because 
they  introduce  you,  they  give  you  dinner  parties,  whereas 
here  those  things  didn't  happen. 

WESCHLER:   How  about  actually  working  in  New  York?   Was 
it  important  to  do  art  in  New  York,  as  opposed  to  Los 

ENGEL:   Oh,  I  really  don't  think  so.   I  think  if  you  go 
back  there  and  you  stay  a  couple  of  weeks  and  you  have  a 
chance  to  view  and  talk  to  people,  I  think  then  you  can  do 
it  anyplace.   I  think  then  the  further  you  go  away  some- 
place, the  better  off  you  are:   you  can  then  be  quiet  and 
be  on  your  own.   Because  New  York  can  be  very  nice  by 
going  to  so  many  places.   Your  phone  rings  at  eight  in  the 


morning,  and  you  get  invited,  and  there  it  is.   No,  I  think 
you  can  work  anyplace;  I  can  work  anyplace,  I  know  that. 
But  it's  good  to  go,  to  see.   It's  very  important  to  see, 
it  just  gives  you  that  extra  something  that  you  would  never 

WESCHLER:  So  you  would  recommend  to  your  students  here, 
for  instance,  that  it's  important  for  them  to  go  back  to 
New  York? 

ENGEL:   Oh  yeah.   I  tell  my  students  to  go  back  to  New  York 
and  look  at  things.   But  then  if  you  go  back,  see  every- 
thing, go  and  see  plays,  go  and  see  dance  concerts.   That's 
the  big  difference,  I  think;  they  go  today,  and  they  under- 
stand.  Maybe  it's  easier  to  travel  today  than  it  was  then; 
today's  students,  they  go  to  Europe.   Well,  twenty,  twenty- 
five  years  ago,  you  couldn't  really  see  high  school  kids 
just  pack  up  and  go  to  Europe.   But  today  they  do. 
WESCHLER:   Do  you  miss  the  naivete,  the  innocence  of  Los 
Angeles  in  the  fifties  at  all?   Are  there  things  that  are 
lost  that  you're  sad  to  see  gone? 

ENGEL:   Well,  I  think  it's  just  like  growing  up:   When 
you're  a  child,  you  function  as  a  child,  you  know.   [phone 


APRIL  1,  1978 

ENGEL:   [l  was]  just  commenting  on  my  coming  into  the  world 
of  painting  and  so  early  into  the  world  of  what  is  pure 
nonobjective,  and  from  that  moving  onto  what  became  my 
world  of  imagery,  with  the  hard-edged,  geometrical,  archi- 
tectural construction.   I  think  what  is  important  here, 
because  almost  all  the  painters  or  people  who  set  the  trend — 
I  mean,  you  take  a  man  like  Kandinsky,  who  came  to  his  way 
of  painting,  which  is  nonobjective,  through  a  process  of 
elimination.   He  was  painting  and  then  he  came  to  this  idea, 
especially  this  one  point  where  he  came  home  one  night,  and 
a  painting  was  upside  down,  and  the  room  was  dark,  and  he 
realized  that  he  had  images  there  that  were  working  without 
the  content.   And  also  then  you  take  Kupka,  one  of  the  early 
ones,  who  again  came  to  work  into  nonobjective  world 
through  a  process  of  first  working  at  all  other  ideas. 
And  fairly  recently  after  the  cubists,  there  was  a  trend, 
a  direction,  or  Mondrian  set  a  direction.   But  I  never  had 
that  approach,  I  never  had  that  process.   I  think,  therefore, 
I  could  be  classified  as  some  kind  of  primitive.   Because 
my  background  was  always — 

Well,  when  I  was  living  back  in  Budapest  as  a  child, 
[my  exposure]  was  purely  classical  as  far  as  seeing  things. 
We  went  to  the  museum  on  Sundays  and  saw  nothing  but  the 


classics,  the  Rubenses,  the  Rembrandts,  the  Titians,  and 
that  world.   Of  course,  I  was,  you  know,  early,  I  mean, 
twelve,  thirteen  years  old.   But  later,  in  high  school, 
here,  I  started  to  have  an  idea,  again,  which  is  the  mystery. 
The  idea  was,  why  couldn't  I  just  put  a  line  or  two  lines 
on  a  piece  of  paper  and  it  would  become  a  painting,  it 
would  become  a  piece  of  art?   A  reason  I  mention  this  is 
because,  see,  I'd  never  seen  any  abstractions  or  anything 
of  its  kind,  but  the  mind  was  already  telling  or  pointing 
the  way  of  there  must  be  other  directions,  there  must  be 
other  ways,  there  must  be  a  new  visual  world,  so  there  also 
must  be  new  discoveries.   And  for  that  there  is  absolutely 
no  answer  why  at  that  early  time  in  my  life,  never  been 
shown  or  seen,  been  exposed  to  this  kind  of  painting,  and 
yet  there  I  am  in  high  school  and  I'm  working  with  the 
squares,  the  triangles,  and  the  lines. 
WESCHLER:   And  this  is  in  the  middle  of  Illinois. 
ENGEL:   Evans ton. 
WESCHLER:   Evanston,  Illinois. 

ENGEL:   And  what  was  interesting  was  that  there  was  a 
teacher  who  I  don't  think  she  really  knew  what  the  hell 
I  was  doing,  but  she  let  me  just  go  ahead  on  that  terrain 
and  she  never  said  no.   So  when  other  people  were  handing 
in  trees  and  nudes  and  still  lifes,  I  would  hand  in 
drawings  of  lines,  and  lots  of  circles  and  squares. 


WESCHLER:   What  year  was  this  about? 

ENGEL:   Around  1938,  you  see,  '37,  '38.   And  she  never 
resented  or  stopped  me  from  doing  that.   But  there  I  was 
doing  this  kind  of  ideas,  and  the  concept  was  simply, 
why  must  a  drawing  be  something  that  you  look  at?   And  that 
was  just —  That  came  from  the  gut,  you  see.   That  came 
from  the  head,  as  I  say,  without  any  previous  process  of 
going  through  a  certain  kind  of  painting  development  and 
arriving  to  that.   So  that  is  where  it  all  started.   One 
interesting  experience  I  can  recall  now — it's  more  inter- 
esting now  than  it  was  then,  then  it  was  meaningless — is 
when  I  saw  an  automobile  for  the  first  time  that  there  I 
really  was  taken  with  it  and  it  stopped  me  cold.   It  was 
the  front  of  a  Rolls-Royce.   Because  it  had  the  square 
and  the  straight  lines.   I  looked  at  it,  and  I  said, 
"This  is  a  beautiful  automobile."   I  knew  nothing  about 
automobiles,  I  couldn't  care  less.   And  yet  that  shape 
struck  me  as  something  very  exciting.   So  this  is  that 
small  texture  that  once  sometime  you  hang  on  and  you  say, 
"How  come  you  didn't  respond  to  the  curves  or  the  Venus 
or  all  the  other  borrowed  things  you  find  in  Middle  Europe?" 
This  was  the  only  thing  I  responded  to,  was  this  square 
nose.   At  that  age,  you  see. 

So  then,  later,  when  I  was  putting  these  ideas  on 
paper,  I  was  very  much  alone.   I  wouldn't  even  show  this 


stuff  to  people  because  I  felt  that  was  so  strange,  or 
weird,  that  people  would  just  not  have  any  simpatico  with 
that  kind  of  world,  painting,  or  drawing  world.   Then,  of 
course,  I  kept  that  going  purely  instinctive  and  not  even 
what  you  call  any  kind  of  a  hard  intellectualization .   But 
all  of  a  sudden  this  idea  of  a  straight  line  became —  A 
feeling  of  hard-edged,  architectural  was  something  that 
became  part  of  me.   And  I  kept  working  with  that.   Then, 
of  course,  when  I  realized  later  that  there  was  a  Kandinsky, 
then  I  felt,  let's  say,  a  little  more  comfortable  with  the 
idea  that  in  a  sense  I  was  not  alone,  that  these  things 
have  been  in  motion  with  other  people  doing  it.   But  at 
that  time,  I  think  it  was  around  19  40  when  I  first  saw  a 
Kandinsky  exhibit  in  Los  Angeles,  by  that  time,  and  then 
I  realized  that  he  was  on  the  right  track  and  there  is 
nothing  strange  about  it.   There's  nothing  weird.   And  it's 
around  us.   So  naturally  then  nothing  stops  you,  and  you 
feel  that  you  are  right. 

WESCHLER:   Much  later  there  was  in  Los  Angeles  a  whole 
group  which  was  called  a  hard-edged  group,  the  "[Four] 
Abstract  Classicists"  show  at  the  L.A.  County  Museum  [in 
1959]  ,  for  example — Lorser  Feitelson,  Karl  Benjamin,  John 
McLaughlin,  for  instance.   Did  you  have  any  particular 
simpatico  with  them  personally? 
ENGEL:   Well,  I  had  exhibits  way  before  that.   I  had  a  first 


exhibit  in  19  45,  a  one-man  exhibit  of  geometrical,  hard- 
edged  painting.   That  was  way  before  Benjamin  or  any  of 
these  people  who  are  doing  anything  like  that.   Way  before 
Feitelson  was  doing  anything  like  that.   So  actually  they 
came  on  the  scene  much,  much  later. 

WESCHLER:   When  they  did  come  on  the  scene,  did  you  converse 
with  them,  or  did  you  work  with  them  at  all? 
ENGEL:   Well,  I  knew  Feitelson  very  well.   But  Feitelson 
still  was  not  working  in  that  direction.   Feitelson  still 
was  not  working  in  that  direction.   Feitelson  was  still 
working  with  like  a  head  of  an  ox,  you  know,  with  surrealist 
dimensions.   So  he  wasn't  working  in  that  way  at  all.   I 
was  the  only  one  in  that  scene.   And  of  course,  Frederick 
Kahn,  who  no  one  knew  and  knows,  who  had  a  gallery  on 
Sunset  Boulevard.   He  was  a  hard-edge,  geometrical  painter, 
a  very  sweet  kind  of  painting  world.   He  had  an  art  school 
later  on  Melrose,  where  now  you  have  [Cafe]  Figaro.   So  he 
was  there.   The  only  other  person  at  that  time  was  Fischinger. 
And  with  Fischinger  I  had  an  exhibit.   But  Karl  Benjamin 
came  on  much  later  and  Feitelson,  much  much  later. 
WESCHLER:   How  about  John  McLaughlin? 

ENGEL:   John  McLaughlin  was  on  the  scene,  but  I  think  he 
also  came  after,  I'm  pretty  sure,  came  after  '45,  '46, 
or  '47.   But  it  was  already  then  an  introduction  that  other 
people  of  Los  Angeles  were  working  that  terrain.   Of  course. 


McLaughlin's  work  for  me  was  a  little  too  close —  It's 
not  Mondrian,  but  it's  a  little  of  that  terrain,  the 
incredible  simplicity  and  a  feeling  of  space  on  the  canvas. 
WESCHLER:   Did  you  know  these  people  personally?   McLaughlin? 
ENGEL:   Yes,  I  knew  him,  but  just  in  as  far  as  meeting  him 
at  the  gallery,  because  he  was  then  quite  an  elderly 
gentleman.   I  always  admired  his  work,  and  I  felt  that 
he  was  something  very  special  in  Los  Angeles.   Karl  Benjamin, 
also.   I  knew  Karl  because  he  was  showing  with  the  Esther 
Robles  Gallery  where  I  was  showing.   And  I  think  he  had 
some  very  good  work  going  then.   I  don't  really  know  when 
Feitelson  started  his  first  hard-edged  paintings.   But 
when  I  had  my  first  exhibit  in  the  city,  no  one  was  working 
that  terrain. 

WESCHLER:   Did  you  feel  left  out  of  the  "Abstract  Classicist" 
show?   It's  striking  that  you  weren't  included  in  it. 
ENGEL:   I  think  the  reason  was  because,  if  I  remember  well, 
I  think  maybe  I  was  in  Paris  then.   I  was  not  in  Los 
Angeles.   I'm  pretty  sure.   That's  when  that  thing  came 
on.   Because  also  the  word  "hard-edge"  was  initiated  by 
Jules  Langsner,  you  know.   And  Langsner  knew  me  well.   But 
I  don't  think  I  was  in  the  city.   I  think  that  happened 
when  I  was  away  in  Paris.   Even  now,  or  lately,  when  you 
have  exhibits  like  that,  or  they're  talking  about  it,  it's 
very  seldom  that  I  get  mentioned.   Because,  now,  the  1949 


Chicago  national  show,  which  was  called  "Abstract  and 
Surrealist  American  Art"--  That  was  Mrs.  [Katharine]  Kuh 
who  was  then  director  of  the  museum.   She  invited  me.   She 
saw  my  painting  which  was  very  hard-edgey  but  small  shaped 
and  very  structured.   That  was  in  there,  and  that  was  in 
1949.   But  I  think  after  that,  something  happened.   Maybe 
because  I  left.   Or  maybe  because  I  was  also  in  love  with 
films,  like  UPA,  I  felt  there  was  a  resentment  there. 
WESCHLER:   How  so? 

ENGEL:   Because  I  was  involved  in  films. 
WESCHLER:   Who  resented  it? 

ENGEL:   Well,  we  don't  want  to  put  it  in  print.   Feitelson, 
I  think.   Because  Feitelson  was  quite  a  champion  of  mine 
at  the  earlier  stage.   I'm  going  around  1946-47.   He  was 
quite  a  champion  of  mine.   Let's  say  he  was  an  elderly 
gentleman,  and  he  was  promoting  me  or  recommended  me.   But 
I  think  the  thing  came  about  that  I  was  working  in  films. 
At  that  time  that  whole  area  had  a  very  bad  taste  if  you 
worked  in  films;  and  I  think  I  was  really  then  sort  of 
pushed  aside  or  left  out. 

WESCHLER:   So  you  were  thought  of  as  an  animator  who  also 
occasionally  dabbled  in  painting,  as  opposed  to — 
ENGEL:   Yes.   But  it  was  more  [than]  that,  because  I  had 
an  exhibit  practically  one  every  two  years.   Always  with 
at  least  thirty  or  forty  paintings.   But  continuously.   And 


was  showing  in  international  shows,  American  shows,  you 
know.   So  I  was  working  all  the  time.   It's  just  that  some 
people  can  do  that  and  some  can't.   I  think  all  it  really 
takes  is  a  kind  of  energy  that  some  of  us  have.   You  know 
how  people  go  home  at  five  o'clock  and  they  say,  "I'm  beat." 
Well,  I  never  had  that  feeling.   I  was  able  to  work,  you 
know,  maybe  twenty  hours  a  day,  and  maybe  have  four  or 
five  hours  of  sleep. 

WESCHLER:   When  were  you  doing  your  painting?   Specifically, 
what  times  of  days  would  you  be  coming  in  to  work? 
ENGEL :   Well,  I  would  be  doing  paintings  anytime  of  the 
day  or  nights,  or  early  mornings.   My  best  time  was  always 
early  mornings.   In  other  words,  if  I  start  a  painting  at 
six  o'clock  in  the  morning,  you  know,  and  go  till  nine 
o'clock,  for  me,  that  sometimes  was  enough.   Because  I 
don't  work,  I  never  did  work  all  day  on  things.   I  could 
only  work  maybe  half  a  day.   The  rest  of  it  would  be  maybe 
sketching  or  thinking  or  doing  other  things.   But  it's 
just  the  way  you're  put  together  that  you  can  manage  that, 
and  a  lot  of  people  can't.   I  don't  understand.   I've  no 
answer  for  all  that. 

WESCHLER:   We've  talked  about  the  origins  of  your  painting 
and  your  imagery,  and  we've  talked  about  its  reception 
here  in  Los  Angeles.   Can  you  just  give  us  a  general  over- 
view of  some  of  the  major  themes  that  you've  worked  on  in 


painting?   Also,  perhaps  chronologically,  what  phases  of 

your  painting  would  be  important  to  think  about? 

ENGEL:   I  think  the  early  part  would  be  the  terrain  where 

I  would  call  discovery.   Of  discovering  things:   shapes, 

forms,  sizes,  the  characteristics  of  the  canvas,  the  edge  of 

the  canvas,  you  know,  all  that.   I  think  the  first  years 

was  that.   The  quality  of  paint,  and  how  it  sits  on  the 

canvas.   And  the  raw  canvas,  working  on  the  gesso  board. 

And  then  I  got  more  and  more  involved  working  with  gouache. 

Again,  it's  a  terrain  of  discovery.   But  primarily,  it  was 

always  a  sense  of  putting  structures  on  the  canvas.   I 

could  never  really  get  involved  talking  about  edges,  because, 

what  the  hell,  you're  locked  into  a  canvas  anyway,  and 

you  have  the  edge.   So  I  couldn't  see  making  a  big  deal 

out  of  that  space.   You  have  a  sense  of  construction,  of 

depth,  or  foreground  ideas.   All  that  I  think  was  part  of 

my  thinking.   Primarily  a  feeling  of  getting  depth  with 

color,  that  is  the  terrain  of  thinking.   Or  the  other  one 

is  to  put  these  hard,  straight  lines,  edges.   Because  for 

me,  I  always  felt  that  the  straight  line,  the  really  straight, 

is  the  most  civilized  thing  there  is.   That  is  really, 

truly  an  invention  of  a  civilization,  the  straight  line. 

And  I  think  that  goes  back  to  architecture,  the  straight 

line.   Because  nature  is  full  of  curves,  you  know,  very 

baroque,  very  beautiful.   But  if  you  see  a  landscape,  then 


you  see  a  house  in  it,  one  house,  and  that  house  has  an 
edge,  that's  your  straight  line.   And  that  is  done  by 
human  being.   That's  a  man  creates  that.   Now,  I  don't 
know  if  I'm  not  going  to  be  way  off  here,  but  I  remember 
when  I  saw  Stanley  Kubrick's  2001,  is  that  it? 
WESCHLER:   Right,  2001. 

ENGEL:   I  realized  one  thing.   At  the  very  beginning  you 
have  an  incredible  landscape  which  is  all  curves.   Then 
those  monkeys  or  whatever;  again  they  are  full  of  that, 
curves.   Now  what  was  that  thing  that  frightened  them?   It 
was  a  straight  line.   That  shape  that  came  into  their 
landscape  frightened  the  hell  out  of  them.   Now,  it's 
interesting  that  no  one  ever  commented  on  this.   But 
that  was  the  only  shape  that  a  human  being  can  make.   That's 
civilization.   Whether  it's  good  or  bad  is  not  the  point. 
The  point  is  that  that  straight  line  is  the  most  civilized 
kind  of  gesture  or  comment.   Maybe  that  is  something  that 
appealed  to  me.   Because  if  you  go  to  an  other  terrain 
which  is  a  curved  line,  which  is  a  sensuous  world,  maybe 
that  wasn't  my  world.   Although  often  when  I  had  exhibits, 
let's  say  with  that  kind  of  structural  thing,  or  like  this 
one —   [points  to  a  work] 
WESCHLER:   What's  this  called  here? 

ENGEL:   That's  The  Roman  Windows ,  that's  Rome.   And  still 
on  that  the  critics  were  commenting,  although  I  worked  with 


that  kind  of  structure,  still  there  is  a  kind  of  sensuality 

in  these  paintings. 

WESCHLER:   Which  also  comes  out  later  on  in  some  of  your 

animations.   You  get  curved  lines  and  so  forth. 

ENGEL :   Yes.   And  I'm  very  aware  when  I  work  with  a  curved 

line  in  that  world  that  I  am  in  this  other  terrain  which 

is  the  terrain  of  the  sensuous.   I  often  like  to  contrast 

that  with  the  straight  lines,  which  stand  as  the  pure 

intellect,  the  most  civilized  pieces  of  creation,  the  straight 


WESCHLER:   It's  interesting  that  you  bring  this  up,  because 

I've  often,  looking  at  the  things  in  this  room  while  we've 

interviewed,  particularly  some  of  these  lithographs--  What 

is  this  one  called  here? 

ENGEL:   That's  New  York  Rhythms . 

WESCHLER:   Well,  some  of  these  other  ones,  and  then  also 

The  Roman  Windows ,  are  really  architectonic  in  a  sense.   I 

mean,  really  New  York  Rhythms  reads  like  buildings  at  one 

level,  even  though  it's  just  black  and  white  shapes. 

ENGEL:   I  think  it  would  be  then  a  natural  thing  because 

the  only  thing  that  attracts  me  are  the  cities.   I  love 

the  cities.   I  love  New  York;  I  love  those  tall  buildings. 

The  only  place  that  I  can  really  relax  is  when  I  go  to  New 

York;  that  to  me  is  relaxation.   If  I  have  to  go  to  Hawaii, 

places  like  that,  I  would  go  just  out  of  my  head.   I  can't 


relax  there.   I  can  relax  in  a  city,  and  it  fascinates  me. 
WESCHLER:   What  makes  you  relax  in  the  city?   What  about 
the  city? 

ENGEL :   Just  the  presence,  just  the  very  presence  and  the 
environment  that  I'm  walking  around  in.   I  mean  the  streets, 
the  length  of  the  streets,  the  buildings,  that  fascinates 
me.   It  gives  me  a  sense  of  well-being. 

Another  interesting  thing  with  the  straight  line  for 
me,  always  has  been,  is  now  when  you  have  a  straight  line, 
a  straight  line  is  full  of  possibilities. 
WESCHLER:   How  so? 

ENGEL:   Because  everything  starts  there.   The  minute  I 
bend  a  straight  line,  I'm  already  committing  myself  to  a 
direction  or  to  an  action  or  to  a  movement.   So  when  there 
is  a  straight  line,  I  can  look  at  it  as  the  most  forceful 
and  the  most  active  part  of  a  composition,  because  of  what 
could  happen  there.   Everything  else  in  the  scene  is 
committed  already,  except  that  straight  line.   Now,  I 
might  even  go  a  strange  direction.   For  instance,  [Rudolf] 
Nureyev  comes  on  the  stage  in  the  middle  of  a  dance  scene 
and  he  stops  and  he  stands  still:   that  to  me  is  often  the 
most  exciting  moment,  because  of  the  expectation  of  what 
will  happen  now.   The  minute  he  moves,  he's  in  motion,  the 
commitment  is  already  there.   And  although  it  is  very 
interesting  and  exciting,  the  commitment  is  there  and  you're 


in  motion  and  the  expectation  is  now,  already,  left  behind. 
Now,  I  am  paralleling  these  things  with  the  straight  line 
because  I  haven't  heard  much  comments  on  that  aspect  of 
it  in  this  character .   So  when  people  see  straight  lines 
and  say,  "There  is  no  movement,"  and  stuff  like  that,  I 
don't  think  they  understand  what  the  possibility  is,  what 
it  hides. 

WESCHLER:   What  it  contains. 
ENGEL:   What  it  contains,  yes. 

WESCHLER:   Certainly  another  element  besides,  just  looking 
at  some  of  the  things  in  your  room  here,  besides  the  level 
of  the  straight  line  and  the  civilized  form  is  your  pig- 
ments and  so  forth  which  are  more  parallel  to  your  animation. 
For  example,  I'm  looking  at  the  lithograph  you  did  at 
Tamarind  over  there,  and  that  is  kind  of  almost  an  animation 
on  a  single —  There's  so  much  action  and  so  much  movement, 
it's  — 

ENGEL:   Yes.   It's  called  Red  Poppies,  it's  a  Tamarind 
print.   Again  you  have  all  that  action,  but  at  the  same 
time  you  have  these  very  hard  edges.   The  structures,  which 
could  be  a  building,  if  you  want  to  read  that  into  it,  but 
that  holds  everything  somehow  down  and  everything  else  is 
just  moving  about. 

WESCHLER:   Tremendously  dynamically. 
ENGEL:   Yes.   But  again,  I  need  that  terrain  that  I  can 


work  around.   This  kind  of  thing  that  settles  down  and, 
pow,  puts  a  strong  presence  on  a  canvas.   But  at  the  very 
beginning,  when  I  did  work  at  Tamarind,  I  didn't  know  the 
technique,  or  I  didn't  know  the  mechanics,  so  I  went  into 
terrain  which  was  very  loose,  because  I  just  didn't  know 
what  to  do  with  the  medium.   It  was  sometime  much  later 
when  I  went  back  that  I  did  things  that  were  much  more 
related  to  my  thinking  and  feeling.   But  it's  a  natural 
thing,  I  think,  when  you  go  into  a  new  process  is  that  you 
work  another  terrain. 

Another  thing  is  when  you  work  in  a  new  terrain  or 
you  want  to  create  new  dimensions  and  you're  looking  for 
things  and  you  want  to  create  new  visual  forms:   I  think 
it's  very  important  to  realize  that  often  you  come  to 
that  terrain  if  you  throw  away  all  the  material  that  you 
worked  with  before.   In  other  words,  if  you  realize  that 
Jackson  Pollock  became  a  Pollock  because  he  threw  the  brush 
away,  that's  very  important.   If  he  stayed  with  the  brush, 
the  drips  would  never  have  come  about.   So  it's  not  always 
that  continuity  from  one  painting  to  another.   No,  he  just 
threw  the  brush  away.   [Pierre]  Soulages  did  the  same  thing, 
[Franz]  Kline  in  a  sense  did  the  same  thing;  it's  not  as 
obvious  as  Pollock.   But  if  you  realize  the  important  thing 
was  the  man  threw  the  brush  away  and  whatever  he  picked  up 
to  work  with,  a  new  world  of  images  was  born,  you  see? 


That's  a  very  simple  statement,  and  yet  people  have  not 
commented  on  that.   It's  simple.   Let's  say  if  you  came 
to  a  studio  and  you  wanted  to  do  something,  and  you  said 
"Oh,  damn  it,  I  left  my  brushes  home,"  but  you  got  to  do 
something,  you  know?   So  you  pick  up  something  and  you 
work  with  that;  that's  very  important.   That's  what  happened, 
Now,  again,  today  you  see  the  painters  are  picking  up  their 
brushes  because  they're  going  back  into  magic  realism, 
stuff  like  that.   What  are  they  using?   They're  using  the 
brush,  you  see? 

WESCHLER:   Going  back  to  what  we've  talked  about,  the  early 
stages  of  your  work,  I'm  again  trying  to  get  a  sense 
chronologically  what  different  phases  you're  concerned 
with.   We  talked  about  a  period  of  discovering.   How  did 
that  evolve?   What  became  the  next  phase  of  your  work? 
ENGEL:   Well,  in  that  world  I  think  I  was  a  bit  in  limbo. 
Sometimes  you  are  locked  into  some  ideas  and  you  have  a 
difficult  time  giving  it  up,  which  sometimes  can  be  tragic. 
So  I  was  working  very  loose  for  a  while.   Maybe  that  lasted 
for  three  or  four  years. 

WESCHLER:   What  general  period  is  this? 

ENGEL:   That  would  be  before  I  started  going  back  to  my 
hard-edge;  that  was  before  '62.   It's  something  that  you 
have  to  do.   At  that  time,  there's  no  control.   All  you 
know  is  that  you  have  to  do  something  that  although  you 


don't  like  it,  but  you  do  it.   It's  almost  a  kind  of  getting 
rid  of  a  lot  of  bad  thinking.   They  were  very  loose,  very 
emotional  paintings,  and  stuff  like  that,  but  I  had  to  do 
that.   I  think  I  just  wanted  to  get  rid  of  something.   And 
then,  all  of  a  sudden  I  just,  boom,  went  back  to  what  I 
was  before  and  where  I  am  today,  the  very  disciplined 
structure,  as  you  call  it,  the  architectonic  approach. 
WESCHLER:   Is  that,  for  example,  these  paintings  here? 
ENGEL:   Yes.   I  think  at  that  time  I  took  off  for  Europe 
and  Rome,  and  there  it  was  again,  you  see,  the  city,  the 
big  city.   I  think  if  I  have  maybe  a  thing  here,  I  think 
in  California  I  was  getting  in  a  sense  too  California-like. 
WESCHLER:   What  does  that  mean? 

ENGEL:   That  means  that  the  vegetation,  the  green —  You 
know,  we  had  no  high-rises,  no  Century  City.   That  maybe 
had  some  influence;  that's  why  I  went  on  that  terrain. 
But  the  minute  I  dropped  into  Rome,  and  I  was  in  the  city, 
then  to  Paris,  then  the  right  feeling  came  back.   Maybe 
it's  a  clue  also,  because  the  stuff  was  very  landscapish 
at  that  time.   I  think  I  have  some  slides  someplace,  but 
I  don't  have  any  actual  paintings.   But  the  minute  I  hit 
Rome  and  I  saw  the  buildings,  then  I  knew  where  I  had  to 
go.   And  then  of  course  Paris.   And  then  of  course  spending 
more  time  in  New  York.   I  felt  that  I  am  now  what  I  should 
be,  you  know?   This  idea  of  what  you  should  be  is  sometimes 


very  difficult  to  explain.   But  you  have  sometimes  no 
choice.   But  again,  in  the  city,  you're  back  into  civili- 
zation, because  the  only  place  that  anything  ever  happens 
or  comes  to  a  lot  of  consequence  is  always  in  a  city.   It 
never  really  happens  in  the  suburbs.   The  beginning  is 
always  in  the  city,  the  important  events.   Then  later  on, 
when  artists  are  well-fed  and  comfortable,  then  they  go 
to  the  South  of  France.   They  still  work,  but  that's 
another  texture. 

WESCHLER:   Given  your  need  to  be  in  cities  and  so  forth, 
why  do  you  live  in  Los  Angeles,  which  is  the  least  city 
like  of  cities. 

ENGEL:   Well,  it's  the  least  citylike.   Because  I  think 
eventually  you  get  accustomed  to  the  climate.   It's 
very  comfortable,  and  it  gives  you  physically —  It's  a 
good  thing.   Also  because  I  always  made  my  living,  which  is 
a  very  big  factor,  here. 
WESCHLER:   In  animation. 

ENGEL:   In  animation,  yes.   In  animation,  but  in  the 
thinking  terrain  of  the  film.   Because  if  I  lived  in  New 
York,  I'm  sure  I  would  see  every  play,  because  I  like  that 
art  world.   But  it  was  the  film,  the  film  texture  was 
here.   I  was  interested  in  film  fairly  early,  so  naturally 
you  came  here.   And  then,  after  a  while,  the  climate  and 
everything  seduces  you,  hooks  you,  and  you  live  here. 


But  every  year  I  have  been  out  of  Los  Angeles  in  either 
Paris,  Rome,  London,  or  New  York,  but  always  New  York, 
every  year  I  go  back. 

WESCHLER:   Do  you  get  kind  of  your  creative  energy  from 
those  trips  and  then  you  bring  it  back  here?   Or  do  you 
now  have  an  independent  source  of  creativity  here,  too? 
ENGEL:   No,  I  think  I  have  an  independent  source,  because 
eventually  you  must  have  that,  it's  got  to  come  from  inside. 
But  going  to  those  other  places,  it  generates  and  helps  it 
to  grow  and  get  healthy  and  well.   I  think  that's  a  very 
important  thing  for  an  artist,  whether  you're  a  painter, 
whether  you're  a  writer,  or  a  musician,  you  must  travel, 
you  must  travel.   But  New  York  has  always  been  an  incredible 
source  of  inspiration  for  me.   Or  any  city.   I  only  go  to 
big  cities  when  I'm  in  Europe;  I  just  don't  enjoy  villages 
or  other  places. 

WESCHLER:   One  of  the  things  I  was  going  to  say  is  that 
the  Coaraze  film,  although  it  does  take  place  in  a  small 
town,  emphasized  the  citylike  aspects  of  that  town,  the 
lines,  the  walls. 

ENGEL:   The  doorways.   You  see,  there  is  your  square--the 
windows,  the  steps — there  are  all  your  straight  lines.   So 
the  visual  structure  that  I've  taken  in  there  from  my 
painting  is  in  character. 
WESCHLER:   That  brings  up  the  question  of  what  the 


relationship  is  between  your  painting,  your  lithography, 
and  your  animation.   Do  you  find  that  you're  working  on 
essentially  the  same  kinds  of  things?   For  instance,  the 
period  from  any  given  year,  are  you  working  similar  issues 
in  both?   Or  do  you  reserve  certain  kinds  of  issues  for 
your  animation,  and  certain  kinds  of  issues  for  your 

ENGEL:   Well,  I  do  think  that  I  have  taken  more  from  the 
painting  world  into  the  film  that  I've  been  doing,  I 
would  say,  during  the  last  twelve  years,  rather  than  the 
other  way.   Because  actually  when  you  work  on  a  film, 
you're  dealing  with  spaces,  and  infinite  space.   When 
you  work  on  a  canvas,  then  you're  always  locked  into  that 
size  of  that  shape.   Now,  you're  also  locked  into  that 
screen,  that  box,  but  I  can  move  to  the  right  or  to  the 
left,  I  can  move  north  and  south.   I  can  show  you  more 
space,  and  all  of  a  sudden  you  discover  that  my  right  side 
is  endless,  and  my  left  side  is  endless  on  the  screen, 
you  see? 

WESCHLER:   Right. 

ENGEL:   So  that's  a  big  difference.   And  also  it  has 
space  around  it,  it  has  space  in  front  of  it,  behind  it. 
Whereas  a  canvas  is  just  it.   So  I  do  think  that  maybe  the 
inventions  of  my  head  go  into  the  painting  and  then  go  into 
the  film.   But  I  can  enlarge  it.   I  can  enlarge  on  this 


character  of  the  shape  of  form  or  size  on  the  screen, 
you  see,  because  I  have  an  infinite  canvas  there. 
WESCHLER:   Do  you  find  that  you  first  work  images  in 
painting  that  a  year  later  begin  to  show  up  on  the  screen? 
Does  it  go  that  direction? 

ENGEL:   Oh,  yes.   Often  I  have  sketches,  hundreds  some- 
times, and  eventually  they  make  their  presence  felt  or 
seen  in  abstract  film.   Because  when  we  are  talking 
animation,  we  have  to  realize  that  we're  talking  about 
painting  in  motion.   But  it's  very  seldom  that  I  get  much 
from  that  world  into  the  painting  world.   I  can  take  a 
lot  more  to  the  screen,  because  the  screen  is  so  new.   It's 
only — what? — sixty,  seventy  years  old.   Whereas  in  the 
world  of  painting  you're  dealing  with  four  or  five  hundred 
years.   And  also  we're  dealing  with  giants  in  the  world 
of  painting.   Whereas  in  film  we  have  no  giants.   It's 
empty,  it's  an  empty  canvas. 

WESCHLER:   Recently  your  film  things  are  beginning  to  show 
up  on  gallery  walls,  or  at  least  on  the  walls  here.   You're 
showing  me  this  idea  that  you  have  of  taking  some  of  the 
sketches  from  your  animations-- 

ENGEL:   I  think  what's  happening  is  that  the  painters 
today  who've  discovered  film  all  of  a  sudden  are  beginning 
to  come  to  that  idea,  that  they  can  take  that  onto  a 
gallery  wall.   And  they're  doing  it  a  lot  in  photography 


also.   There's  ten  photos — 

WESCHLER:   A  sequence  of  photos. 

ENGEL:   And  I  think  that's  where  the  film  has  been  a  very 

large  influence  on  the  painters  and  definitely  on  the 

still  photographers.   Whereas  I  think  that  I  would  still 

prefer  to  go  the  other  way,  because  the  opportunity  there 

is  enormous,  it's  endless.   Space  is  endless. 

WESCHLER:   Well,  looking  ahead  generally,  to  your  next 

phase  of  activity,  do  you  see  yourself  spending  more  time 

with  animation  or  more  time  with  painting?   Or  is  it 

roughly  the  same? 

ENGEL:   I  think  it's  a  question  of  energy,  of  how  much 

you  have  left.   Also  sometimes  you  move  from  one  to  the 

other  for  relaxation. 

WESCHLER:   How  does  that  work? 

ENGEL:   It  works  in  such  a  way  that  if  I  work  on  several 

abstract  films  I  can  get  very  tired  of  the  process,  and 

going  back  into  painting  is  much  more  relaxing.   Also 

because  I'm  not  involved  with  mechanics.   I'm  not  involved 

with  a  lab.   I'm  not  involved  with  the  projector.   I'm  not 

involved  of  having  a  dubbing  session.   So  in  film  you  have 

all  those  other  mechanical  characteristics,  so  that  going 

back  to  painting  and  drawing  is  very  relaxing,  because  also 

the  result  is  immediate.   I  don't  have  to  wait  three  days 

to  get  it  back  from  the  lab;  it's  very  important,  and  therefore 


it's  very  relaxing. 

WESCHLER:   That  sounds  particularly  impressive  in  light 
of  your  work  now  towards  the  [1978  Los  Angeles]  Filmex 
retrospective,  which  has  you  so  involved  in  working  on 
film.   You  sound  like  you  need  relaxation. 
ENGEL:   Yes.   And  people  don't  realize  that  when  you 
finish  drawing,  then  you  have  to  go  and  have  it  shot,  then 
you  have  to  wait  to  have  it  come  back.   You  have  an 
incredible  lot  of  mechanical  process  in  film  art  and  often 
you  don't  know  where  you're  at.   Because  a  lot  of  stuff 
came  back  from  the  labs  recently  all  ruined,  full  of  dirt, 
full  of  little  snow  drops,  or  it  looks  like  snow.   What 
do  you  do?   You  have  to  sometimes  draw  the  whole  damn 
thing  over.   So  you  have  a  lot  of  terrain  where--how  can 
I  say?--you're  on  the  edge,  because  you  don't  know.   It 
can  happen  even  when  you  have,  a  good  dubbing  session,  and 
the  music  comes  back,  and  something  is  wrong  someplace. 
That's  the  magic  of  painting,  that's  why  you  want  to  go 
back  to  it.   Because  you  see  it  in  front  of  you,  it's 
there  and  it's  yours,  it's  totally  yours.   You  don't  have 
credit  for  photographer,  you  don't  have  credit  for  mixer, 
you  don't  have  credit  for  anybody  else.   You  just  sign  a 
painting  and  it  belongs  to  you.   It's  very  important  to  do 
that  for  me,  because  although  the  other  work  is  mine,  still 
there  are  a  lot  of  other  people  that  I  have  to  rely  on  and 


a  lot  of  other  people  are  involved.   You  want  to  get  away 

from  that,  you  really  do. 

WESCHLER:   What  kind  of  painting  imagery  are  you  dealing 

with  these  days  particularly?   What  are  some  of  your  most 

recent  paintings  like? 

ENGEL:   Well,  my  very  recent  ones,  like  that  one — 

WESCHLER:   What's  that  called? 

ENGEL:   Let's  see,  they  were  called  Landscape,  just  Landscape, 

and  that's  the  last  one,  the  last  terrain  of  painting.   I 

had  about  two  dozen,  and  then  I  had  others  that  grew  out 

of  that.   But  then  again,  if  I  would  start  tomorrow,  I 

would  still  hold  onto  this  kind  of  structure,  but  it  would 

not  be  that. 

WESCHLER:   Can  you  describe  the  structure  for  people? 

ENGEL:   Well,  this  is  what  people  refer  to  as  the  grid. 

But  again,  the  way  I  use  the  color  there,  it's  really 

color  fields.   They  are  color  fields,  playing  one  against 

the  other. 

WESCHLER:   It's  almost  a  harmonic  effect. 

ENGEL:   Yes,  but  see,  that  red  still  pops.   It  takes  a 

position  next  to  the  other  colors,  but  at  the  same  time, 

all  the  other  colors  hold  a  position  with  that  color.   It's 

a  very  structured,  what  people  refer  to  as  a  grid,  although 

I  never  think  of  it  in  that  way.   At  the  same  time,  there's 

a  touch  of  film  in  there,  because  if  you  move,  you  can  move 


from  one  shape  to  another,  and  there's  a  continuity  there 
also.   So  today  that  aspect  of  thinking  begins  to  creep 
into  paintings  of  mine  and  at  the  same  time  it  still  holds 
onto  the  city  character,  the  straight  line.   Some  people 
might  read  windows  in  that,  you  know.   But  that's  their 
problem.   I  never  work  with  that  really,  in  mind.   But 
what  was  important  to  me  is  the  color  relations,  they're 
very  subtle  and  it's  one  note.   Not  quite — 
WESCHLER:   Like  the  Tamarind  piece,  the  Red  Poppies? 
ENGEL:   Yes,  yeah. 

WESCHLER:   Well,  this  has  been  very  exciting.   Are  there 
any  other  notions  on  painting  that  you  would  want  to  talk 
about  before  we  close? 

ENGEL:   Well,  I  think  at  the  moment  it's  very  complicated, 
because  this  idea  of  going  back  to  magic  realism  and  stuff 
like  that  that's  going  on,  I  think  that's  something  that 
will  never  really  work.   You  can't  go  back.   There's  no 
way  that  you  can  go  back.   Art  is  like  a  river,  you  know, 
you  put  your  foot  in  it,  take  it  out,  and  you  put  it  back, 
and  the  water  is  not  the  same.   It's  very  much  like  that. 
You  can't.   And  it's  sad,  for  me  it's  very  sad  to  see 
these  people  trying  to  do  that.   You  can't.   And  it's 
pretty  bad,  it's  pretty  bad  stuff.   So  I  just  have  to  see 
if  I  can  really  get  hold  of  something  which  is  tomorrow, 
which  is  things  in  motion,  and  still  have  something  of  that 


in  the  world  of  painting  without  all  the  futurists, 
without  doing  Nude  Descending  [A  Staircase].   But  that's 
also  interesting,  because  I  think  Duchamp,  when  he  painted 
Nude  Descending,  I  don't  think  he  was  aware  but  I  think  he 
was  already  doing  something  which  dealt  with  space  in  time. 
Because  for  that  thing  to  come  down,  that  was  time  and  that 
was  in  space.   I  don't  think  that  people  were  aware,  but 
he  was  doing  that. 

WESCHLER:   He  was  anticipating  animation. 

ENGEL:   Yes!   He  was  anticipating  almost  the  film.   Because 
if  I  take  a  group  of  drawings  of  mine  and  put  it  in  the 
light  box  as  I  function  as  the  animator,  I  would  get  that. 
In  fact,  if  that  existed  in  his  time  as  accurately  as  it 
exists  today,  I  doubt  very  much  if  he  would  have  done  that. 
But  it's  interesting  to  go  back  to  Duchamp 's  Nude  Descending, 
which  is  pure  animation,  that  somebody  was  doing  that,  but 
again  not  being  aware.   You  just  do  it,  you  see.   Just 
like  I  came  on  these  ideas  that  it  must  be  a  drawing  that 
doesn't  relate  to  anything  that  you  look  at.   I  had  no 
preconceived  intellectual  thinking  there.   And  yet  he  was 
doing  that.   As  you  say,  he  was  prophesying  possibilities 
of  that.   But  at  that  time  he  was  not  aware  that  it's 
possible.   So  somewhere  there--  See,  I'm  going  back  there 
to  see  what's  there  that  relates  to  today  because  of  the 
motion  of  film  and  to  see  where  I  can  tie  the  two  together. 


WESCHLER:   Are  you  hopeful  for  painting  now? 

ENGEL:   Oh,  I  think  so. 

WESCHLER:   You  have  despair  for  magic  realism  and  so  forth, 

but  do  you  generally  feel-- 

ENGEL:   No,  I  think  magic  realism  is  here,  but  it's  a  kind 

of  a —  Maybe  the  galleries  are  frantic  and  they  have  to 

do  something.   But  you  can't  do  that,  because  so  many  of 

those  just  look  like  retouched  photos.   There's  nothing 

wrong  with  retouched  photos,  but  it's  that.   There's  no 


WESCHLER:   But  you  think  there's  room  for  a  young  painter 

starting  out  today  to  find  a  voice  that  isn't —  Some 

people  say  that  all  possibilities  have  been  used  up,  that 

there's  no  more  room  for  somebody  to  start  out.   You  don't 

feel  that  way? 

ENGEL:   No,  I  don't  feel  that  way  at  all.   I  think  possibilities 

are  always  there.   It  just  depends.   The  right  person  will 

come.   But  I  think  it's  there.   Of  course,  it's  a  little 

more  difficult  than  it  would  have  been  two  hundred  years 

ago.   That's  why  maybe  the  film  is  so  exciting  for  the 

painter,  because  he  doesn't  find  any  Picasso,  there's  no 

Matisses,  no  Braques,  there's  nothing.   So  that  is  why  that 

terrain  is  so  exciting.   Whereas  the  painter  has  this 

incredible  background,  tradition. 

WESCHLER:   The  weight  of  history. 


ENGEL:   The  weight  of  history,  all  that.   And  he  bucks 
that;  he  looks  at  it.   Whereas  in  a  film,  where  I'm  doing 
work,  I'm  working,  there's  nothing.   I  can  set  a  whole 
new  avenue  or  boulevard  that's  not  walked  on.   But  I  still 
feel  that  the  painting  or  the  graphic  art  has  its  place. 
It's  got  to  have  its  place,  and  it  will  continue.   Maybe 
today  is  a  time  when  we  look  things  over  in  the  world  of 
painting,  sort  of  settling  down.   Because  we  had  this 
enormous  upheaval  with  de  Kooning,  Jackson  Pollock,  Gottlieb, 
Rothko.   Maybe  there's  a  kind  of  a  simmering  now.   But  no 
magic  realism:   that  will  not  do  it!   [laughter] 



Adains,  Clinton,  217,  222 
Alley,  Alvin,  60,  87 
Albers,  Josef,  72,  234 
Antreasian,  Garo,  217,  222 
Arizona  (magazine),  5 
Arnstrong,  John,  180-81 
Arts  et  Me  tiers  Graphigues, 
3'2  ' 

Babbit,  Art,  20 
Bakshi,  Ralph,  187-88 
Ballet  Russe  de  Monte 

Carlo,  11-12,  18-19 
Bamb  i .  See  Disney,  Walt, 

Studios--f ilms 

produced  by 
Bass,  Saul,  34 
Bauhaus  school,  60 
Bay,  Hillary,  252 
Bazilon,  Irving,  193,  196 
Baziotes,  William,  265 
Bechtold,  Elizabeth,  187 
Beckett,  Adam,  102,  168, 

173-75,  177-78 
Belson,  Jordan,  144 
Benjamin,  Karl,  276-78 
Benkes,  Brenda,  188 
Bergman,  Ingmar,  130-31 
Berrocal,  Miguel,  201-4, 

Bill,  Max,  208-10 
Blair,  Lee,  39 
Blanchard,  Rick,  180 
Blau,  Herb,  89,  153,  154 
Blum,  Irving,  270 
Bogatirev,  Wikolaj,  115 
Borenstein,  Joyce,  179-80, 

Borowczyk,  Walerian,  44 
Bradbury,  Ray,  215-16 
Breer,  Robert,  144 
Brice,  William,  53-54, 

Burchfield,  Charles,  72 

California  Institute  of  the 
Arts,  79-92,  101-4, 
149-62,  163-90 
-history  of,  89-92,  153- 

-students  at,  102,  157- 
62,  163-90 
Cannon,  Robert,  36-37,  76- 

Chaplin,  Charles,  38,  241 
Chorus  Line,  2  4  4-45 
Cirrus  Editions,  229,  233- 

Citizen  Kane,  238 

Codrick,  Thomas,  22,  25 
Comsky,  Cynthia,  208 
Comsky  Gallery,  208-9 
Corrigan,  Robert,  90,  153- 

Cremean,  Robert,  207,  234 
Cunningham,  Merce,  88,  113, 

126,  152 

David,  Tisa,  189 
Davis,  Stuart,  72 
Delaunay,  Sonia,  176 
Demeier,  Paul,  180 
Dickson,  Anita,  Academy  of 

Theater,  28 
Diebenkorn,  Richard,  266 
Dike,  Phil,  21,  39,  48 
Disney,  Walt,  22-23,  26-27, 
28-29,  37-38,  44,  51 
Disney,  V'Jalt,  Studios,  16- 
27,  34-44,  47-53, 
67-68,  73,  75-76, 
138-40,  143-47.   See 
also  Fischinger, 
Oskar ;  Lebrun,  Rico 
-approach  to  animation, 
30,  36-43,  47-49,  51, 
67-68,  73,  75-76,  139 
-films  produced  by: 
-Bambi,  22-25,  40,  42, 
44,  52-53 


-Dumbo,  4  3 

-Fantasia,  16-25,  4  9-50 

-Peter  Pan,  4 2 

-Pinochio,  4  2-43 

-Toot,  VJhistle,  Plunk 
and  Boom,  4  2 

-Snow  White,  42,  49,  5  2 
Dryer,  Ivan,  224-25,  228 
Duchamp,  Marcel,  88,  297 
Dufy,  Raoul,  69-71 
Durst,  Eric,  169,  175,  180 

Eggeling,  Viking,  114 
Engel,  Jules 

-abstraction,  interest 
in,  7-11,  14-15,  21,  59, 
247-50,  252-56,  273-76 

-California  Institute  of 
the  Arts,  teaching 
position  at,  79-88,  100- 
2,  149-90 

-color,  use  of,  18-21, 
22,  25-26,  50-51,  71-74, 
106,  117-18,  122-23, 
193,  200,  202,  295 

-dance  influences  on 
work,  9,  11-12,  15,  17, 
18,  84,  94,  107,  111-12, 
126,  238,  258,  261 

-Disney  Studios,  work  at, 
17-23,   25-26,  34-35, 
47,  49-50,  73,  138-40, 

-dramatic  influences  on 
work,  28,  205-6,  238-39, 
244-45,  255-56 

-films,  animation,  18- 
26,  49-50,  71-74,  83- 
84,  92-93,  105-30, 

-Accident,  108-11 
-Fragments,  119-21 
-Landscape,  114-17 
-Rumble,  12  2-26 
-Shapes  and  Gestures, 

111-13,  115-16 
-Swan,  126-27 
-Three  Arctic  Flowers, 

-Train  Landscape,  10  5-7, 

-Wet  Paint,  115 
-films,  live-action,  130- 

36,  191-213 
-American  Sculpture  of 

the  Sixties,  2  28 
-Coaraze,  130-35,  206 
-Ivory  Knife,  The,  191- 

200,  206 
-Light  Motion,  207-8 
-Look  of  a  Lithographer, 

The,  223-28 
-Max  Bill,  208-10 
-New  York  100,  206-7 
-Torch  and  the  Torso, 
The,  201-5,  206,  211 

-lithography,  213-18, 
-Homage  to  David  Smith, 

-New  York  Facade,  2  3  5 
-Red  Poppies,  28  5,  29  6 

-painterly  influences  on 
films,  5,  8,  59-60,  67- 
73,  80,  92-93,  191-92, 
198,  243,  256,  291-93, 

-paintings,  5,  7,  58-59, 
60-61,  96,  105,  122, 
278-85,  287-90 
-Landscape ,  29  5 
-New  York  Rhythms,  283 
-Roman  Windows,  The,  28  2 

-sculpture,  65-67 

-UPA,  work  at,  30,  31- 

37,  56,  67-77 
Experimental  Animation  (by 

Robert  Russett  and 
Cecile  Starr) ,  162 

Falkenstein,  Claire,  207 
Fantasia .   See  Disney, 

VJalt,  Studios--f  ilms 
produced  by 
Feitelson,  Lorser,  276-79 

-commercial  pressures  and 
restrictions,  38-39,  44, 

restrictions,  38-3: 
67.  132-35,  146-48 


-comparisons  v>?ith  other 
graphic  arts,  41,  63-65, 
75,  87,  92-93,  114,  135, 
197,  201,  206,  236-41, 
243,  258-62,  279,  289-93 
-comparisons  with 
performing  arts,  113-14, 
197,  205-6,  244-45 
-conflict  between  art  and 
business,  15-22,  28-29, 
38-43,  49,  51,  132,  135, 
138,  146,  279 
-future  trends  in,  63-65, 
84-86,  94-100,  128,  243- 
44,  293 
-technical  innovations, 
34-35,  83,  144,  149 
Fischinger,  Elfriede,  148 
Fischinger,  Oskar,  44,  48, 
58,  138-46,  148, 
242,  253,  277 
Fitzpatrick,  Robert,  182 
Fontana,  Lucio,  121 
Ford  Foundation,  219 

Garbutt,  Bernard,  24 
Gemini,  Graphic  Editions 

Ltd.,  229-34 
Gerald  McBoing  Boing.   See 

United  Productions 

of  America  (UPA) 
Goldman,  Steve,  112 
Graham,  Martha,  60,  126, 

Griffith,  D.W.,  27,  29 
Grossman,  Clara,  56,  142-43 

Hannah,  Jack,  151 
Hofmann,  Hans,  72 
Holland,  Steve,  181 
Hopper,  Edward,  7  2 
Horak,  Bohuslav,  216 
Hubley,  John,  30-37,  47, 

67,  189 
Hultberg,  John,  206 
Hurtz,  Bill,  30,  32,  36,  67 

Jackson,  Martha,  191,  194- 
95,  199,  206 

Jackson,  Martha,  Gallery, 

Jenkins,  Paul,  191-99,  204 
Jepson,  Herbert,  54 
Jepson  Art  Institute,  54 
Johns,  Jasper,  229-33,  270 
Julian,  Paul,  56 

Kaftan,  Niki,  164-65,  180, 

Kahn,  Frederick,  277 
Kandinsky,  Wassilly,  14-15, 

18,  22,  31,  67,  249, 

251-52,  273,  276 
Kantor,  Josephine,  266 
Kantor,  Paul,  262-67 
Kelly,  Ellsworth,  58,  234 
Kepes,  Gyorgy,  60 
Kimball,  Ward,  155 
Kirchner,  Ernst  Ludwig,  264 
Kirkland,  Mark,  180 
Kirkwood,  Jane,  81,  187 
Klee,  Paul,  18,  67,  72,  251 
Kline,  Franz,  122,  286 
Klynn,  Herb,  30,  32-37,  56, 

71,  77,  142 
Kosa,  Emil,  Jr . ,  39 
Kubrick,  Stanley,  282 
Kuh,  Katherine,  279 
Kupka,  Frantisek,  249,  251, 

Kuri,  Yoji,  171 

Landau,  Felix,  269 

Landau,  Felix,  Gallery,  56, 

Langsner,  Jules,  278 

Leaf,  Caroline,  187 

Lebrun,  Rico,  23-24,  52-55 

Leger,  Fernand,  67,  72,  176 

Lenica,  Jan,  44 

Levine,  Stan,  106,  117 

Levy,  Don,  101 

LoRiva,  Rudy,  30 

Los  Angeles--art  galleries 
and  museums,  45-46, 
53-56,  142-43,  207- 
9,  262-71,  276-78. 
See  also  Comsky 


Gallery;  Grossman, 
Clara;  Kantor,  Paul; 
Landau,  Felix, 
Gallery;  Los  Angeles 
County  Museum  of 
Art-  Robles,  Esther, 
Gallery;  Sotheby, 
Parke,  Bernet; 
Wurdemann,  Helen, 
-role  in  promoting  Los 
Angeles  as  an  art 
center,  45-46,  55-56, 
142-43,  207,  262-70, 

Los  Angeles--art  schools, 
54,  56,  79-92,  101- 
4,  149-60,  162-90. 
See  also  California 
Institute  of  the 
Arts;  Jepson  Art 
Institute;  Otis  Art 

Los  Angeles--as  environment 
for  artists,  45-47, 
54-56,  142-46,  175- 
77,  219-21,  270-72, 
277-80.   See  also 
Los  Angeles — art 
galleries  and 
museums;  Los 
Angeles--art  schools 
-V.  New  York,  46-47,  54, 
175-76,  221,  267,  270-72 

Los  Angeles  County  Museum 
of  Art,  276-77 

Lucas,  George,  174 

Lund,  William,  185 

Lustig,  Alvin,  33 

MacKendrick,  Alexander,  90, 

101,  154 
Malkiewicz,  Kris,  101 
Matisse,  Henri,  72 
Mcintosh,  Robert,  56 
McLaren,  Norman,  44,  83, 

McLaughlin,  John,  276-78 
Meier,  Jody,  183 

Milant,  Jean,  229,  233-34 
Milcall,  Milt,  155 
Miller,  Barse,  21,  39 
Mintz,  Charles,  Studio,  4- 

6,  11,  14-17 
Mister  Magoo.   See  United 

Productions  of 

America  (UPA) 
Moholy-Nagy,  Laszlo,  60 
Moritz,  VJilliam,  148-49 
Muybridge,  Eadweard,  111 

Nauman,  Bruce,  81 
Nevelson,  Louise,  226-27 
Nielsen,  Kai,  25 
Nin,  Anais,  89,  154 
Nureyev,  Rudolph,  284 

Oldenburg,  Claes,  230,  233 
O'Neill,  Pat,  102,  208 
Otis  Art  Institute,  56 

Palmer,  Herb,  46 
Pavlova,  Anna,  126 
Perls,  Frank,  45-46,  53 
Picabia,  Francis,  176 
Pies,  Dennis,  81,  107,  162, 

168-69,  172-73,  175, 

Pollock,  Jackson,  181,  286 



Ray,  Man, 


Richter , 

Roach,  Ha 




Robles,  E 

Robles,  E 



Rose,  Kat 




erg,  Robert,  229- 
,  232-33 

,  Ad,  58,  123 
Hans,  114 
1,  Studios.   See 
ited  States  Air 

sther,  262,  268-69 
sther,  Gallery, 

6,  261,  268-69, 

hy,  150,  168-69, 
1-72,  175,  179, 

7,  189 
William,  155 


Sal,  Darla,  183-84 
Sanders,  Terry,  101 
Scheyer,  Galka,  141 
Seldis,  Henry,  220 
Shawn,  Ted,  18 
Sheeler,  Charles,  35 
Sheets,  Millard,  21,  39 
Shoemaker,  David,  122 
Sotheby,  Parke,  Bernet, 
Soulages,  Pierre,  286 
Spire,  VJilla,  30 
Stamos,  Theodore,  265 
Star  Wars,  173 
Stella,  Frank,  229-30, 

Stokowski,  Leopold,  48 
Stone,  Carl,  109 
Strobel,  Ken,  4-5 
Stutting,  Barbara,  81 



Van  Huhn,  Stephan,  234 
Vigo  (Jean),  Prix,  130-31 

Warshaw,  Howard,  53-54 
VJayne,  June,  203,  213-33. 

See  also  Tana rind 

Lithography  Workshop 
Welles,  Orson,  144 
VJest  Coast  watercolor ists, 

21,  25,  39,  54 
VJhitney  Museum  of  American 

Art,  102 
Wright,  Norm,  18 
Wurdemann,  Helen,  Gallery, 

Wyle,  Edith,  53 

Yunkers,  Adja,  217 

Tamarind  Lithography 

Workshop,  213-31, 

Tati,  Jacques,  10,  77,  254 

Tharp,  Twyla,  60,  88 

Thomas,  Frank,  155 

Thurber,  James,  74 

Tyler,  Ken,  228-33 

United  Productions  of 

America  (UPA),  30- 
37,  42-43,  56,  67- 
78 .   See  also 
Cannon,  Robert; 
Hubley,  John;  Hurtz, 
Bill;  Klynn,  Herb 
-Frankie  and  Johnny,  74 
-Fudgets  Budget,  3 7 
-Gerald  McBoing  Boing, 

-Jaywalker,  3  7,  74 
-Mister  Magoo,  3  3,  74 
-Unicorn  in  the  Garden, 
The,  7  4 
United  States  Air  Force — 
animation  unit,  30- 




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